PATNA, India – Villagers in a rural part of eastern India have beaten to death a woman whom they accused of being a witch, police said on Tuesday.
The woman's husband said 14 villagers carried out the attack in Bihar, one of India's most underdeveloped states, according to a local officer. "The woman was beaten to death by her co-villagers for allegedly practicing witchcraft," said Sudhir Kumar Singh, police superintendent of East Champaran district where the attack took place.
He said the villagers had gathered to settle a land dispute with the woman's family when they instead attacked her after accusing her of bringing illness and bad luck on the village through witchcraft. She later died of her injuries in hospital. "It seems that it was a case of a land dispute and the woman was made a victim to take revenge (over the dispute). Police are still probing into it," Singh said.
"But to date no arrests have taken place because all the named accused absconded after the incident," he said. Women are sometimes accused of being witches to settle disputes or grievances in remote and rural areas that remain deeply superstitious. In some cases women are stripped naked as punishment, burnt or driven from their homes and killed.
In March this year, a couple was beaten to death by their neighbours for allegedly practicing witchcraft in a village in Gaya district of Bihar. Three people were arrested.