In a shocking incident, a 40-year-old Dalit woman was allegedly branded a witch, stripped, beaten-up and made to eat faeces in a village in Rajasthan’s Ajmer district. She was then dragged by her hair and forced to lie on a bed of embers. The embers were then shoved into her eyes, blinding her.
A widow, Kanya Devi died one day after she was brutally assaulted by two of her relatives and a neighbour on 2 August. The incident took place at Kadera village near Kekri in Ajmer. According to the police, a village caste panchayat had exonerated the perpetrators by asking them to take a holy dip in Pushkar and arrange a tractor-load of fodder for cows. The panchayat also threatened the victim’s immediate family of a social boycott if they reported the matter to police.
“They claimed that they were asked by one Bhairon Baba to beat Kanya as she was a witch,” said Tara Ahluwalia, an activist in Bhilwara working with women branded as witches, reported Indian Express. “But the real reason was property. Kanya’s husband recently passed away and since her son is a minor, her husband’s relatives conspired to get rid of her and grab her eight bigha land.”
The assault on Kanya started around 11 pm on August 2 when she was sleeping with her 15-year-old son Kalu at their home.
“She was badly tortured. The accused have admitted to forcing her to eat faeces, lashing and burning her. Five of the six accused, booked for murder and under relevant sections of the Rajasthan Prevention of Witch Hunting Act, have been arrested,” said Ajmer Superintendent of Police Rajendra Singh.