Call to end witch-hunt in Bodo belt

Kokrajhar, May 2 : More than 50 organisations from Guwahati and other parts of the Northeast expressed deep concern over the recent killings of six women in Kokrajhar district in the name of witch-hunting and expressed solidarity with the affected families.

The Women in Governance-Assam (WingG Assam), North East Network, Assam Mahila Samata Society, Nari Mukti Sangram Samiti, People’s Right Forum and the All India Dalit Mahila Adikar Manch today submitted a memorandum to Kokrajhar deputy commissioner Donald Gilfellon, demanding immediate steps to stop witch-hunting.

“A total of eight deaths in a span of four months in 2011 raise concern and demand urgent attention. We express our deep anguish over the killings. Witch-hunting is a gross violation of human rights which affects the livelihood, property, personal security, social dignity and the right to life of a woman and her family,” the memorandum said.

It demanded expeditious judicial inquiry to prosecute those involved in witch-hunting, immediate installation of police checkposts and immediate arrangement of police patrol in the sensitive areas.

The memorandum also demanded immediate rehabilitation and adequate compensation to the victims and their families, awareness among the masses to eradicate the social ill, adequate healthcare facilities in rural areas, inclusion of witch-hunting as a separate programme under the National Rural Health Mission.

The memorandum also urged the social welfare department to adopt a policy to immediately end the killings.

Kokrajhar district saw killings of six persons, five of them women, since April 15 and eight since January 1 sending shockwaves throughout the Bodo belt.

A couple managed to escape from the clutches of villagers because of intervention of Serfanguri police. The police have so far arrested 15 people.