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Villagers torture, detain elderly couple suspected of witchcraft

By Staff Reporter

GUWAHATI, May 13 - In a shocking incident of superstition-related crime in Kamrup district, an elderly couple was subjected to physical torture and detention in Dagaon of Boko area on May 11 and 12 by nearly 500 villagers. Though the victims Luind Sangma (70) and his wife Pritila Sangma were rescued by the police on Sunday, no arrests have been made so far in the case.

At a time when the State has one of the toughest anti-superstition laws in place and the State Government has launched a special drive like �Sanskar � Manuhe Manuhor Babe,� numerous incidents of superstition-related crimes are being reported from different areas of the State.

According to the police, controversy surrounding a bier (a movable bamboo frame for carrying corpse) triggered the entire incident, when the villagers started accusing the elderly couple of doing some black magic.

�Both the victims were called for a public meeting on May 11, where they were assaulted by some of the villagers. We rescued the couple on May 12 morning and sent them for treatment at Boko Community Health Centre and the GMCH,� Boko OC Jogen Barman told The Assam Tribune.

Even as the police have initiated a rehabilitation process through counselling, no arrests have been made so far as the police is in search for the main culprits behind the incident.

Meanwhile, rapping the State government for its failure to implement the Assam Witch Hunting (Prohibition, Prevention and Protection Act) 2015, social activist and secretary general of �Brothers�, Dibyajyoti Saikia today said that the State government has taken no lessons from the gruesome mob lynching incident of Dokmoka.

�The anti-witch hunting Act states clearly the measures to be taken against the people who spread superstitious beliefs. Be it a person, or an entire mob, no one should be spared if such incidents are to be stopped,� he mentioned.

Saikia also criticised the State government�s Health, Education and Social Welfare departments for not reaching out to the people in rural pockets. �Dagaon is one of those villages where a large section of people still prefer going to local quacks and religious preachers instead of doctors during an ailment. Unless the health and education concerns of the people living in these pockets are addressed, such incidents are bound to occur again and again,� he mentioned.

Corroborating his statement, Dagaon village headman Keshab Rabha said that the incident was a result of superstitious beliefs among the villagers. �Earlier also, several rumours were reported from the area, but this incident also involved physical violence. Now, reconciliation process is on as the couple has to live in the same village, with the same people,� he added.

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