GUWAHATI, Feb 15 � Recent spurt of witch-hunting cases in different parts of Assam has become a cause of serious concern and there is call for multi-pronged approach to deal with the social menace.
Additional Director General of Police, Kula Saikia, who has been studying the problem since 2001 as the nodal officer of Project Prahari of the Assam Police, told The Assam Tribune that a multipronged approach would help in dealing with the problem and there should be a study of the incidents both individually and in totality.
Saikia, who was instrumental in launching of Project Prahari in a remote village in Kokrajhar district after the killing of five persons, said that the law enforcing agencies have to face problems in dealing with the problem. He said that the first problem is late reporting of such cases and it is difficult to get witnesses as most of the perpetrators are from the same locality. Proper intelligence inputs about development of such a situation are also not forthcoming, which also creates problems for the law enforcing agencies.
Commenting on the recent High Court order in this regard, Saikia said that the order once again vindicated the stand that witch hunting is a social crime and the civil society should play a more responsible role in dealing with the problem. He said that the project also tried to create a platform for the law enforcing agencies, social activists, women�s groups etc to deal with the menace jointly and only last year, the Police chalked out a joint action plan to tackle witch hunting.
Replying to a question on what role the Project Prahari could play over the years, Saikia said that the project managed to improve awareness on the social menace and now there is talk about the need for a separate legislation to deal with witch hunting in lines of the legislations brought by states like Jharkhand and Chattisgarh. He said that witch hunting is considered a human rights violation all over the world and there is need for proper documentation of the cases.
Saikia admitted that it is difficult to say whether the number of witch hunting cases increased in the state as because of a lack of a separate legislation to deal with witch hunting, all such cases are registered as normal murder cases. He said that there is a need for a proper study in this regard. However, at the same time, he said that because of growing awareness, the incidents of witch hunting are now reported promptly by the media.