Guwahati, Friday, November 28, 2014
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Govt inaction to tackle witch-hunting flayed
Staff Reporter
 GUWAHATI, Nov 27 – Expressing serious concerns at the increasing incidents of superstition in the name of ‘witch-hunting’, voluntary social organisation Brothers have held the government responsible for not giving proper attention to this issue despite the fact that it has reached alarming proportions in far-flung pockets of the State.

 Bringing reference to the recent cases of witch hunting that were widely reported in the media, the secretary general of Brothers, Dibyajyoti Saikia said that the State apparatus was not mobilised in most of those cases, thus missing a chance of giving a strong message to those who resort to such acts of violence in the name of witch hunting.

“In past two months, 15 to 20 such cases of ‘witch hunting’ have been reported in the State. Most recently, a 60-year old woman Lalita Tanti of Dhekiajuli was declared a ‘witch’ in a public meeting and was asked to leave the village. The woman was threatened for life, if she did not comply with the command of the villagers,” said Saikia, who visited the place and organised an awareness meeting on Thursday.

Some of the key factors that trigger such incidents include lack of awareness about the health and property disputes.

“In the incident of Lalita Tanti, her husband’s brother accused her of practising witchcraft, following a property dispute nearly two years back. What fuelled the incident was the death of a one-and-a-half month old boy, who was not keeping well and was brought to Lalita for massage. A day before the child’s death, a doctor in Dhekiajuli referred him to Tezpur, but his family members brought him back to the village instead,” added Saikia.

Asserting that lack of awareness about healthcare is the major reason behind such incidents, he said that after a proper awareness meeting in the presence of NGOs operating in the area, police and district administration, the villagers have agreed to bring her back to the village.

“The Health and Social Welfare Department of the State government have a major role to play in this regard. The proposed-anti-superstition law must also include strict laws against those who fuel superstitious beliefs and also take the opinions and suggestions of the NGOs working in this field into consideration,” added Saikia.

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