GUWAHATI, June 26 � The Assam State Commission for Women (ASCW), in continuation with its efforts to create awareness on eradicating the evil practice of witch-hunting, has called upon all sections of the society to be part of its mission.
It needs to be mentioned here that recently killings in the name of witch-hunting have gone up in the State. As per official reports, since 2001 till date, 61 people have been victims of this superstitious practice, out of which 39 were Bodos and 22 belonged to the Adivasi community. Of the total killings, 23 were males and 38 females. The most shameful aspect of this development is the participation of an entire community in such �murders�.
Chairperson of the Commission Mridula Saharia said that it has joined hands with the Assam Police to fight this practice that has emerged as the new bane of modern society.
�We have collaborated with the Assam Police to revive Project Prahari and have given it a new name of Project Mother or Bima in Bodo. The new project will have a village committee, a sub-divisional committee and a district level committee,� informed Saharia.
Here it might be recalled that the Project Prahari of Assam Police was launched in the year 2001 to combat the menace. Although the project had worked effectively till 2006, after that it became defunct.
�Since 2008, the Commission has been undertaking several initiatives against witch hunting. The collective influence if illiteracy, poverty, superstition, lack of knowledge on health and hygiene and social customs are the core of the problem,� said Saharia.
The Commission has been visiting the affected areas and after detailed study of the socio-economic condition of the areas, the Commission has come to the conclusion that the government officials of health, education, social welfare, police and district administration along with non-government organisations have a major role to play in combating this practice.
�One of the worst affected areas is Kokrajhar district. So we attended a workshop-cum awareness meeting on witch hunting under Project Prahari at Kokrajhar recently,� said Saharia adding that it will take time to change the attitude of the people.
Traditionally the Bodo community believe that outbreak of a disease is due to the presence of an evil. Hence the incidence of witch hunting is rising amongst the community. Although the changing times have ushered a lot of development in the country, science and technology is yet to influence the collective psyche of the population in Kokrajhar, said Saharia. She further pointed out that there are only 69 doctors in Kokrajhar, out of which 33 are Ayurvedic practitioners, 2 Homeopathy doctors and 34 MBBS doctors. �Development of health services should be of outmost priority now to tackle witch hunting,� remarked Saharia.
As part of its awareness programme, the Commission has distributed leaflets amongst the people appealing to stop witch hunting.