More than 10 people have been detained for allegedly lynching four elderly tribals, including two women, on the suspicion of practising witchcraft in Gumla district, police said on Monday.
Suna Oraon (65), Champa Oraon (79), Fagni Oraine (60) and Piro Oraine (74) were beaten to death by a group of 10 masked men in Nagar-Siskari village on Saturday night, the police said.
However, nobody in the village is willing to talk about the incident, the police added.
“Over 10 villagers have been taken into custody since Sunday for interrogation. Locals used to visit the deceased, who were suspected of performing witchcraft, with the belief that they could cure diseases,” SP Anjani Kumar Jha said.
He said the victims were not involved in any land dispute, which many experts believe becomes the reason behind accusing people of practising witchcraft.
“Branding a person a ‘witch’ is one of the tactics to usurp his or her properties. A majority of the incidents occur in tribal areas as sorcery is widely practised there,” said Premchand, chairman of Free Legal Air Committee, which works towards the eradication of witchcraft.