Jharkhand police rescue 55-year-old woman held hostage, branded witch by villagers

Police on Sunday rescued a 55-year-old woman held hostage and branded a witch by residents of Purihasa village, under Sundernagar police station in Jharkhand.

Additional forces led by deputy superintendent of police (DSP, Law and Order) Aloke Ranjan managed to rescue the woman safely by the evening.

This has once again brought into sharp focus the superstition of witchcraft and black magic rampant among villagers in the three districts — East Singhbhum, West Singhbhum and Seraikela-Kharsawan — leading to killing of women and even men after branding them as ‘witches.’

“We have safely rescued the woman and brought her to the Sundernagar PS. The villagers had held her hostage after accusing her of trying to kill a 15-year-old girl who has been sick for quite some time in the village. The villagers were adamant that they would not release the old woman until the minor girl gets well but we managed to convince them and eventually rescued her,” Aloke Ranjan, DSP (Law and Order), told the HT on Sunday.

The DSP further said that they were trying to identify the persons who had held the woman hostage and accused her of ‘witchcraft.’ “We will soon make some arrests. There was, however, no clash with the police though the angry villagers had ghearoed the police team and PCR van for some time,” added Ranjan.

As per available information, residents of Purihasa village got hold of the woman and held her hostage around 3 pm and threatened to kill her if she didn’t cure the 15-year-old sick girl immediately. They branded her as ‘witch’ and alleged that she was trying to kill the minor girl through black magic. They also alleged that the woman had practised witchcraft a few times in the past as well.

On May 27 this year, Rajnagar police had arrested 14 named accused of shaving heads of nine men and cutting nails of seven women from 12 families after branding them ‘witches’ in Chota Krishnapur village under Rajnagar police station (PS) in Seraikela-Kharsawan district of Jharkhand.

Sumitra Samad, another 55-year-old woman, was killed by a fellow villager after banding her as ‘witch’ in Sasikala village under Sonua police station (PS) under West Singhbhum district of the state on May 20. Sonua PS officer-in-charge (OC) Kuldip Kumar had lunch at Sumitra’s house last year in a bid to convince the villagers that ‘witchcraft’ is just a superstition and had managed to rescue her that time.

First Published:
Jun 10, 2019 14:16 IST

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