A tribal youth, Suku Paharia (30), was murdered and his mother-in-law, Mrs Ganga Paharia was thrashed and later hacked with sharp weapons, allegedly by their community members, based on suspicions that the Paharia family practiced witchcraft and had caused the death of a 10 year-old child of the same village, Chhotan Paharia.
The sorcery suspects were attacked last night at Bonpara village of Hariharpara police station in Murshidabad. Suku died on the spot while his mother-in-law is now struggling for her life at Behrampore New General Hospital.
Suku who used to work in Mumbai as a daily wager, had to return to his village yesterday after being summoned by village chieftains, said a resident, Mr Madan Paharia. There would be frequent discussions and consequent altercations over Chhotan’s fever-induced death causing resentment among the villagers who reportedly held a “majlis” or “kangaroo court” to ascertain the identity of the child’s killers.
“The tribal court decided to visit a “jaan guru” (wizard detective) at Dumka and a delegation was slated to leave for Dumka this morning, but things went awry as soon as Suku reached home from Mumbai and faced the wrath of his fellow villagers, who ended up killing him,” added Mr Madan Paharia.
A number of villagers, including Chhotan’s family members, suspect that Mr Shibu Paharia, the father-in-law of the slain youth, is the master wizard who had engineered the “slow death” of the child by means of witchcraft, said police. The old man, however, managed to escape from his hut a couple of days back and was allegedly hiding on a tree-top. Shibu’s disappearance augmented the doubts of the rustic chieftains and prompted them to attack the Paharia family with rods, axes and other sharp-cutting weapons last night.
Police reached the village this morning and made an inquiry but no-one has been arrested. The body of Suku Paharia has been sent for a post mortem. Suku’s wife, who does paddy plantation work had left home a few days ago, and has not returned home yet.
Statesman News Service / Aug 6, 2009