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Call to implement of anti-witch hunting law

By Staff Reporter
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GUWAHATI, Sept 26 - Despite a specific law for prohibition of witch hunting in State, spurt in the incidents of superstitious practice-related violence is highlighting the need for a more focused approach to solve this problem.

As three more such incidents � at Bamunimaidam in Guwahati, Lakhimpur and Tezpur � came into light recently, social organization Brothers has appealed to the State government to take immediate action for proper implementation of the Act.

�The government must come clear on when it is going to implement the Act that was passed on August 14. Even the law-enforcing agencies, including police, are feeling the need of early implementation of the Act,� said Diyajyoti Saikia, secretary general of Brothers.

Brothers, which has been taking up the issue of witch hunting on different forums as well as creating awareness in the field in remote pockets, rescued a witch hunting victim Danda Pegu, 72, from Na Dhala under the Panigaon Police Station in Lakhimpur district. The village is located near Majulli.

�Villagers had threatened Pegu to leave the village or face the consequences. Knowing this, our team immediately rushed to the spot and along with the police, rescued him at midnight. Though he has been kept in a shelter house called Jagriti, his permanent rehabilitation and reconciliation with the villagers has to be ensured,� he added.

The State government unanimously passed the Assam Witch Hunting (Prohibition, Prevention and Protection) Bill, 2015, making any offence under the Act as non-bailable, cognizable and non-compoundable to eliminate the superstition from society.

However, this has hardly made any difference in the frequency of incidents related to superstition.

At Bamunimaidam here, local people attacked the house of one Meera Das (40) and Manuj Das (16) on charges of practising witchcraft and black magic.

�On enquiry, it was learnt that the mother-son duo had threatened to use black magic against some of the locals during the coming Durga Puja, following which the locals got enraged. Though there are several other aspects to this incident, the entire episode revolved around superstitious beliefs,� he added.

�However, in the Tezpur incident, where one Phaguni Kawari (50) was beheaded at Borghuli under the Tezpur Police Station, the police has claimed that the incident was not related to witch hunting,� said Saikia, stressing that his organisation would closely monitor all the three cases so that no further damage is caused to the victims and the culprits are punished.

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Call to implement of anti-witch hunting law

GUWAHATI, Sept 26 - Despite a specific law for prohibition of witch hunting in State, spurt in the incidents of superstitious practice-related violence is highlighting the need for a more focused approach to solve this problem.

As three more such incidents � at Bamunimaidam in Guwahati, Lakhimpur and Tezpur � came into light recently, social organization Brothers has appealed to the State government to take immediate action for proper implementation of the Act.

�The government must come clear on when it is going to implement the Act that was passed on August 14. Even the law-enforcing agencies, including police, are feeling the need of early implementation of the Act,� said Diyajyoti Saikia, secretary general of Brothers.

Brothers, which has been taking up the issue of witch hunting on different forums as well as creating awareness in the field in remote pockets, rescued a witch hunting victim Danda Pegu, 72, from Na Dhala under the Panigaon Police Station in Lakhimpur district. The village is located near Majulli.

�Villagers had threatened Pegu to leave the village or face the consequences. Knowing this, our team immediately rushed to the spot and along with the police, rescued him at midnight. Though he has been kept in a shelter house called Jagriti, his permanent rehabilitation and reconciliation with the villagers has to be ensured,� he added.

The State government unanimously passed the Assam Witch Hunting (Prohibition, Prevention and Protection) Bill, 2015, making any offence under the Act as non-bailable, cognizable and non-compoundable to eliminate the superstition from society.

However, this has hardly made any difference in the frequency of incidents related to superstition.

At Bamunimaidam here, local people attacked the house of one Meera Das (40) and Manuj Das (16) on charges of practising witchcraft and black magic.

�On enquiry, it was learnt that the mother-son duo had threatened to use black magic against some of the locals during the coming Durga Puja, following which the locals got enraged. Though there are several other aspects to this incident, the entire episode revolved around superstitious beliefs,� he added.

�However, in the Tezpur incident, where one Phaguni Kawari (50) was beheaded at Borghuli under the Tezpur Police Station, the police has claimed that the incident was not related to witch hunting,� said Saikia, stressing that his organisation would closely monitor all the three cases so that no further damage is caused to the victims and the culprits are punished.

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