The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Witch-hunt of housewife
- Ex-husband strips woman for ‘casting spell’ on son

Durgapur, June 5: A housewife was stripped, tied to a tree and thrashed by her former husband and four others of his family in a village near here. Her crime, according to them: casting a spell of black magic to kill her son.

Dharmi Bagdi, 36, is now at the subdivisional hospital here. Her condition was said to be serious.

Dharmi split with Dilip Mete 11 years ago. Their two sons and daughter moved in with the father and she married Pagla Bagdi a year later. After the second marriage, Dharmi lived in the same Madhabmath village in the Kanksa area of Burdwan.

After dragging feet since the incident on May 30, police accepted an FIR from Dharmi’s in-laws (from her second husband) yesterday.

“We received the FIR only yesterday. We have raided the area and arrested one person. The others are absconding,” said Ramen Talukdar, the officer-in-charge of Kanksa. The arrested person was identified as Uttam Mete, who was part of Dilip’s army of four.

Talukdar had no answer to why an FIR of an incident of May 30 was not accepted before June 4. The police had got Dharmi admitted to the hospital but that was it. They were loathe to conduct an inquiry into the incident, said villagers, still trying to recover from the shock.

They said trouble started about three months ago when Dilip’s elder son died after a brief illness. Dilip branded Dharmi a witch and accused her of casting a spell to kill his son. Then on, a drunken Dilip frequented Dharmi’s house and hurled abuses, blaming her for his son’s death.

On the morning of May 30, witnesses said, Dilip and his family members marched to Dharmi’s house armed with lathis and iron rods and hurling abuses. The woman was dragged out, stripped and tied to a palm tree in full view of the village.

“Then they started beating her up mercilessly. It went on for two hours. The villagers gathered and looked on but none came forward with help. They did not allow anyone to come near,” said Bagdi’s brother Shyam. The young man did rush in. He was thrashed as well.

Dharmi screamed in pain and screamed till she fell unconscious. Bagdi, braving the sun in a paddy field, could not have heard her.

Dilip and his men left Dharmi limp and tied to the tree. They threatened the villagers with dire consequences if they tried to get her off it.

However, some of the villagers called in the police and a force arrived after about an hour. Dharmi was shifted to the hospital.

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