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Screen to counter social evil

- Nagaland’s Rebecca produces film to protest ‘witchhunt’

Golaghat; March 26: A young film producer from Nagaland, Rebecca Changkija, is all set to release The Dark Secrets of Tonhi in Guwahati next month to send a message against killing of innocent people in the name of witchhunt.

The movie will be released in Guwahati on April 4.

A total of 80 people have been killed in Assam from January 2006 to February 2011 in the name of witchhunting, official records revealed. The number is increasing every month, with the latest incident being reported from Kokrajhar district where three members of a family, including two women, were killed. The Dark Secrets of Tonhi has been shot in Chhattisgarh, a state that is also plagued with such superstitions. “It’s a realistic movie based on true incidents where innocent women have been killed by branding them tonhi (as a witch is called in Chhattisgarh). It deals with superstition and the lives of the villagers who are still bound by old beliefs,” said Changkija.

“With 56 women killed in the last five months on the pretext of practising witchcraft, Chhattisgarh tops the chart in incidents related to witch-hunting in India. We have been trying to address this alarming issue through our film, which was shot at locations where incidents of witch-hunting have taken place,” she said.

Changkija hails from Dimapur and is a fashion designer by profession. She went to pursue her dream in Mumbai six years ago and is currently running a production house, Find Studioz, there.

She has earned the distinction of being the first woman producer from the Northeast in Bollywood.

Changkija said the evil of witchhunting is prevalent in many parts of the Northeast, including Assam. Through this film she wants to create awareness against the practice and would be happy if the movie succeeds to make even a slight difference in society.

Written and directed by Shiraz Henry, the lead actors of the 110-minute film include Natassha Sikka, J. Brandon Hill, Alex Peters, Smita Siah, Priyanka Joshi and Rahim,supported by Apurva Shell, Bobby Rajput and Rahul Dani.

The Chhattisgarh government has enacted the Chhattisgarh Tonhi Atyachar (Niwaran) Act, 2005, to discourage this practice. It is the only state in India to have such an act.

Assam police have also launched an awareness drive against witch-hunts in the state’s remote areas under its Project Prahari.