Nine arrested for torturing Assam woman as 'witch'

Guwahati, Nov 13 : Nine people were arrested Wednesday in Assam's Sivasagar district for torturing a woman and branding her a 'witch', police said.

The incident took place Tuesday evening in Gorbhanga village.

Police said an elderly woman was singled out as a witch and the nine people incited others to torture her.

The woman was rescued by police after being informed by villagers and later admitted to a hospital.

Her relatives filed a police complaint, based on which the nine, including seven women, were arrested, police said.

Assam has recently seen a spike in cases related to 'witch-hunting'.

A veteran athlete in Karbi Anglong district was tortured last month, while three other women were tortured in Tinsukia district.

Over 140 people have been killed in the name of witch-hunting while several hundreds have been tortured in various places since 2002.

Although about 500 people have been arrested, investigation into many cases is pending due to shortage of police officials with detailed knowledge of the issue.

The practice of witch-hunting is common among some communities in Assam. Although various steps have been taken both by government agencies and NGOs to remove the social stigma, very little success has been achieved.

Assam Police had launched 'Project Prahari' for participatory development and people friendly policing to fight social maladies and deprivation. Under the project, police have launched an awareness drive against 'witch-hunting' in remote areas where tribal and Adivasi communities are in the majority.