Thirty-three persons were arrested in a village in Odisha’s Ganjam district on Thursday for allegedly beating a woman to death after she filed a police complaint about an attack on her husband, whom the villagers suspected of being involved in witchcraft, reported the Hindustan Times.
Jhunu Nahak, a resident of Madhupalli village was allegedly attacked by the villagers on Wednesday night. The villagers had suspected that Judhisthir Nahak, her husband, and three others were involved in witchcraft, reported The Hindu. The four of them were summoned to a meeting where there were beaten up.
Following the attack on her husband, Jhunu Nahak filed a complaint with the police.
Ganjam Superintendent of Police Vivek Saravana said that the woman was found dead by her two sons after they returned home from visiting their injured father in the hospital.
“The woman’s body had several assault marks, suggesting she was beaten to death by the villagers who were angry at her for approaching the police,” the police official said.
Saravana said that it was difficult to convince the villagers to not attack the family and that attempts to resolve the matter continued throughout the night. Unidentified officials told The Hindu that some villagers kept the police busy in discussions while a group attacked the woman.
“We have witnesses of the attack,” Saravana said. “Women actively participated in murder of the victim. No one will be spared.” said the SP.
He added that all 33 persons, including 20 women, have been booked on charges of murder. Three platoons of police have been deployed in the village to keep the situation under control.
Since 2014, around 400 persons have been killed on suspicion of witchcraft in Odisha, according to The Hindu.
Although several laws have been passed in states as well as the central level to prevent the killings, the medieval era practice of witch-hunting has continued across the country. In several instances, the suspected persons are forced to eat human excreta, paraded naked, or killed.