Six booked for branding woman as witch

A 30-year old woman in Rajasthan's Dungarpur district has filed a police complaint alleging that she was branded a witch, tortured and forced to leave her village. A case has been registered against six villagers. The woman told police Monday that her husband Kawa Varhat was also beaten up in Padardi Mewada village, about 500 km from state capital Jaipur. According to police, an inquiry has been ordered on her complaint. "A group of people came to my house Saturday night and started beating me. They held me by my hair and dragged me, saying I was a dayan (witch). Then they started thrashing my husband and ordered us to leave the village immediately," the woman said in her complaint. "They ostracised her and claimed that she was a dayan (witch) and possessed an evil spirit," a senior police officer told IANS. "She said that some villagers told her to leave the village immediately, failing which they threatened to torture her," he said.
He said that a first information report (FIR) has been registered against six villagers. "Some others were also involved. They are being identified. We are conducting raids," he said. The state department of women and child development recently proposed a stringent law against the practice of branding women as witches. According to the draft of the Rajasthan Women (Prevention and Protection from Atrocities) Bill, 2011, a crime would be considered to have been committed when any person or community intentionally or inadvertently abets, conspires, aids and instigates the identification of a woman as a witch leading to her mental and physical torture and humiliation. The bill has proposed a maximum of seven years' imprisonment and fine for those who grab the land of such women after forcing them to leave their house.