Police on Monday arrested eight persons allegedly involved in the lynching of three women on suspicion of practising witchcraft in a village under Sonahatu police station in Bundu sub-division, over 50km from Jharkhand’s capital Ranchi.
On Sunday night, the police recovered the bodies of Rayalu Devi, 45, and Dholo Devi, 60, from the forest of Ranadih and the decomposed body of the third woman Aloomani Devi, nearly 55, was found in the same forest area on Monday morning.
According to police sources, they got information on Sunday afternoon from a local journalist about the killing of three women. A joint search was carried out by Rahe and Sonahatu police stations in the forest, which is over 25km from Sonahatu police station, amid stiff resistance from the villagers. Almost all the men have gone absconding from the village since Sunday.
According to police, on the night of September 1, Raj Kishore Munda, 18, a student of Eklavya Vidyalaya in Tamar and a native of the village, died due to a snake bite. He was the son of Ramsakal Singh Munda, a resident of Ranadih.
After the incident, villagers approached a snake catcher who also doubles up as a quack in the Ranadih village and he told them that the death is due to witchcraft being done in the village by a few women and if they are not eliminated they will destroy the village. The quack had convinced the villagers that the women would kill another youth in their own family soon.
On Friday, Railu Devi’s son Lalit Singh Munda, 19, was also bitten by a snake. He was saved after treatment.The villagers called a meeting on Saturday where Railu Devi was brought and after being beaten for practising witchcraft, she admitted to practising witchcraft out of fear and when pressured to name other witches in the villages she named Dholi Devi and Aloomani Devi. After this, the villagers caught the three women and took them to the mountain near Ranadih and killed them.
The villagers called a meeting on Saturday where Railu Devi was brought and after being beaten for practising witchcraft, she admitted to practising witchcraft out of fear and took Dholi Devi and Aloomani Devi names under pressure. Then the villagers took the three women to the mountain and killed them.
Ranchi SSP Kishore Kaushal confirmed the arrest of eight named in the FIR lodged by one Surender Munda of the village.“We had constituted an SIT to probe into the ghastly incident. So far eight persons named in the FIR have been arrested. Search is on for another 16 persons. We will also be arresting the quack who had instigated the villagers,” said SSP.