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One 'witch' raped, another killed

Ranchi: A 55-year-old tribal widow on Saturday lodged a complaint at Murhu thana in Khunti district alleging she had been raped by four men who accused her of being a witch while an 80-year-old Dalit woman of Chainpur, Palamau, was axed to death on Friday allegedly by a villager who called her a witch.

Both cases underline the sombre fact that awareness campaigns against witch-hunt have not had much impact in Jharkhand's hinterland.

In the Khunti case, the gang rape occurred at Bari village, 60km from Ranchi, on March 7. The victim, who stayed with her daughter's family at Bari village some 20km from Khunti district headquarters, said eight men around 9.30pm on March 7 dragged her on the outskirts of the village and took her to a kangaroo court.

There, she was accused of practising witchcraft and brutally thrashed, she said. Then, four men gang-raped her.

The woman accused Tigin Munda, Ramay Munda and Gari Pan, all villagers of Bari, and another unidentified man. She alleged they threatened her with dire consequences if she did not keep mum.

"The complainant was sent to sadar hospital for medical test. The SDPO has rushed to Bari for inquiries. Detailed reports are awaited," said Khunti SP Ashwini Kumar Sinha.

In the Palamau incident, one Mahendra Bhuiyan was arrested for hacking Dalit woman Raghumania Devi (80) to death at Marhi Tola village in Chainpur, some 200km from Ranchi on Friday. Mahendra was sent to Palamau jail on judicial custody on Saturday.

Her husband Rambriksha Bhuiyan, 83, told the police Mahendra would often call her a witch. On Friday afternoon, Mahendra allegedly called Raghumania to the village outskitys and repeatedly struck her with a weapon. The old woman died on the spot.

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