Ranchi: Five women have been killed in a village in Jharkhand, 45 kilometres from capital Ranchi, reportedly on allegations of witchcraft.
The village falls under Ranchi's Mandar block. The police have confirmed the incident and say they have taken 50 villagers into custody.
The cops also say that prima facie it seems that villagers were involved in the incident and there was no outside influence.
Among those killed is a 45-year-old woman named Ittwari Khalko who had been living in the village for a long time. Further details of those killed are awaited. "There was a sudden knock on our door at night. Some people dragged her out and started beating her mercilessly. There was no time to react," said a relative of the woman.
Arun Kumar, a senior police offical in Ranchi, said, "This place is 40 km from the Mandar police station. One woman named Ittwari was dragged out of her home yesterday night by villagers, on allegations of witchcraft. She gave the names of 4 other women. Then the villagers, mostly youth, dragged them all to one spot and beat them to death with sticks."
Killings on the suspicion of witchcraft have a fairly high occurrence in Jharkhand and in the past, many such instances have come to light in the state.
According to National Crime Bureau Records (NCRB), 2097 people have been killed across the country on allegations of witchcraft between 2000 and 2012 and 363 of those cases have been from Jharkhand. The state government figure, meanwhile, say that between 2011 and 2013, more than 400 people were killed and 2854 of such cases registered.
Jharkhand has had an anti-witchcraft law since 2001, but human rights activists say not much has been done on the ground to make the law effective, including creating social awareness about the issue.