The Telegraph
Friday , January 24 , 2014
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Headmaster brands housewife ‘witch’

- Police on lookout for Majuli teacher

Jorhat, Jan. 23: A headmaster of a lower primary school in Majuli has been absconding after a woman, whom he branded a witch, filed a complaint with police.

Police have registered a case (1/2014) after the homemaker, Ritamoni Doley from Balijan village, lodged a complaint on Tuesday. They are looking for the accused headmaster of Balijan Lower Primary School, Dipak Taid, who reportedly fled after the police wanted to interrogate him.

In her complaint at Garmur police station, Ritamoni said Taid was spreading rumours that she was witch among the villagers.

She told this correspondent from Majuli over phone today that she was “very disturbed and frightened” as it is for the second time she has been accused of being a “witch”.

In May, she, along with her husband and two children, were forced to leave their home at Bahphala village on the northwest outskirts of Jorhat town by the villagers, who accused her and her husband of practising witchcraft.

Ritamoni, who lives along with her family at a house next to her parents’ home, said on January 19 at a religious ceremony, organised for her dead grandparents, Taid started telling the people that she was a “witch” and she should be asked to confess.

Taid, who lives in the adjoining Selakagaon village, was among the invitees to the ceremony.

Ritamoni said the next day, Taid visited several households in the village and instigated the people to organise a meeting to have a discussion on the matter.

“From then onwards some people in the village have started suspecting me and my family because of the allegations by Taid. For the second time my family and I are going through fear and agony,” she said.

Ritamoni said after she approached the police there was “pressure” on her by some villagers to withdraw the complaint. But she refused to yield.

Garmur police station officer-in-charge Bipin Chetia said preliminary investigation suggested Ritamoni’s statements to be true with several persons present at the religious ceremony corroborating her charge.

Chetia said the police were looking for Taid, who left his home before a police team reached to bring him in for questioning.

“This is very shocking,” said the secretary-general of Brothers, a social organisation working against superstitious beliefs, Dibyajyoti Saikia.

It is “disgusting” that a teacher was allegedly involved in such an incident, he added.

He hoped the police would take strong action in the case.

Since October 2013, there have been two incidents of witch-hunting on the island in which innocent villagers were branded witches and “purification ceremonies” conducted.

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