As many as 107 people have been killed in witch-hunting related incidents in Assam since 2011. This was informed by the BJP-led Assam government during the ongoing winter session of the Assam Assembly.
Since 2016, 23 people were killed in witch-hunting incidents since the BJP-led government came to power in Assam. The Assam government informed that Kokrajhar recorded the highest number of witch-hunting deaths. A total of 22 people died in Kokrajhar in witch-hunting incidents, 19 in Chirang and 11 in Udalguri, nine in Biswanath, seven in Goalpara, six each in Nagaon and Tinsukia and four each in Majuli and Karbi Anglong districts.
It may be mentioned, attacks or killings related to suspicion of witchcraft are continuing in the state despite the promulgation of the Assam Witch Hunting (Prohibition, Prevention and Protection) Act, 2015. Under the Act, a person can be imprisoned up to seven years, and also has to pay a fine of up to Rs 5 lakh, for branding someone as a witch.
The state has always witnessed high incidents of witch-hunting cases. Such incidents expose the living condition of the people in the rural, interior places. In such cases, both the victim and accused are found to be deprived of education, healthcare and financial security. They hold on to superstitious beliefs.
The pattern of such crimes is also similar. Greed for the property and personal grudges is often the reason behind such offences.
In most cases, the accused target widow women or families involved in religious practices. They are blamed for all the ills afflicting in the community and families like delay in marriage, lack of a job, ailments not getting cured.
Along with law, the Assam government and also the opposition parties must work towards spreading awareness among the people to shun superstitious practices.
The education, health care and livelihood opportunities must be provided to get rid of such evil practices which prove blockade in the path to growth, development.
Photo credit: livetoday.online