Monday, March 31, 2008

Witch Beating in the Hinterland

There is only one thing worse than a ghost story--the people stupid enough to believe in it.

Indian 'witch' tied to tree, beaten by mob

From Tess Eastment
-- An Indian woman accused of being a witch was tied to a tree and beaten by a mob, with television footage of the incident aired in India on Friday.


Nishant Tiwari, a police official in northeastern India, said a journalist who filmed the beating called him Thursday to report the incident, which took place in the village of Dumaria in central eastern Bihar state.

He arrived to find the woman tied to a tree, her hair partially cut and her complexion ruddy from being slapped. She had no serious injuries.

"I was appalled at what I saw because people should be more socially responsible than to do this," Tiwari said.

Authorities arrested six people, including the man who admitted to hiring her services as a witch. They were due to appear before a magistrate on Friday.

Ram Ayodhya, who could face up to seven years in prison for his role in the attack, told police he was justified in beating the woman, Tiwari said.

Ayodhya said he paid her to use magic and prayer to improve his wife's health.

When his wife's condition deteriorated, Ayodhya accused her of performing black magic, Tiwari said, and a crowd soon gathered and tied her to the tree.

The woman seen being attacked is expected to testify when the suspects appear before the magistrate.

Tiwari said he was disturbed by the fact that a journalist filmed the incident before contacting authorities.

"The media filmed the incident, then called the police -- instead of the police first," Tiwari said.

CNN's partner network, CNN-IBN, reported that the incident took place close to the local police station.

It reported that there had been other such occurrences of mob justice in the state.

In Bhagalpur district in August 2007, a man caught trying to snatch a woman's chain was beaten up, with police looking on, and later tied to a motorcycle and dragged around by a police officer.

In September, in Lucknow's Wazirganj area, an angry mob beat a man to death after a 2½-year old girl was allegedly found sexually assaulted and murdered in his house.

Here are some of the village lumpens at work.

I think this is what Marx meant when he referred to the "idiocy" of rural life.

Still, seriousness aside, this incident does take me back to a childhood movie memory.

You have to admit, she did weigh as much as the duck.

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