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Sunday, May 20, 2012

Two Youths Branded Witch, Brutally Beaten to Death

MALDA, 18 MAY: Two tribal brothers, suspected as ‘witch’ were lynched last night while their wives and children were roughed up brutally. All this took place at village Palashbari, at the outskirt of Malda town spreading a shockwave among the people. Three were arrested so far as the police were still looking for the motive behind this heinous act. Survivors are still scared of their security. 

Only 5 km from English Bazaar, Palashbari is mostly inhabited by the brick kiln workers. Among them the family of Sonua Pahari (38) and Baishakhu Pahari (32) were a bit well off with their other sources of income like working as labourers. Even their children were used to go to school unlike the others. Of late Sonua had bought a van to increase his income to much jealousy of others. However, their rational outlook along with depending on doctors instead of jaanguru (soothsayer) in case of ailment made them different from others. 

Last night when they were asleep at their house, around 11 pm, a group of villagers with sword, sickle, rods, stones and sticks attacked them. Sonua and Baishakhu were dragged out of house. Even their wives and children too could not escape the wrath when they wanted to save them. Somi, wife of Sonua was wounded at her hand when Lakshmi, wife of Baishakhu managed to escape with her children. Two brothers were beaten with sticks, rods and then their heads were broken with stones. They died on spot.

Police were informed by someone from the village itself and reached there at night. Led by inspector in charge (IC) Jaharjyoti Roy police raided the village to rescue other members of the victim family. Two daughters of Lakshmi - Puja and Jaya were taken to hospital. Besides five more children were rescued and taken to police station. Three were arrested this morning in connection with the incident. They were Bhola Pahari, Tofa Pahari and Fagu Pahari. They would be produced to court tomorrow.   

This morning at the police custody, Lakshmi said, “Falling ill the villagers went to the jaanguru but we did not. The villagers did not approve our going to doctors or sending our children to school. Any ailment of the villagers or even the death of cattle too was ascribed to us. But never did we anticipate that such an action they would take on our family.” It is learnt that of late some of the villagers had visited jaanguru Dighi Pahari who identified the family of Sonua as ‘witch’ and responsible for all the ailment of the villages.    

Block Development Officer (BDO) Gopal Ch Das met the survivors of the victim family in police station. He said, “Primarily it seems an act of the jaanguru who feared losing their authority over the villagers. This family was a bit enlightened and had gone above some superstition. We’ll certainly hold some more awareness camps there.”

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