Family killed in India for allegedly practicing witchcraft

Other News Materials 18 October 2008 19:26 (UTC +04:00)

Three members of a family in India's north- eastern state of Assam were killed Saturday on suspicion of practicing witchcraft, a news report said Saturday.

The incident took place in the Balipara town in the Sonitpur district 230 kilometres north-east of the main city of Guwahati, the IANS news agency reported.

"We have arrested the main accused and his accomplice who appear to have targeted the family for allegedly casting evil spells on his father and sister who died during a year's time," a police official told IANS requesting anonymity, reported dpa.

Santa Santhal, 40, his wife, Kiron and their ten-year old son, Bilu were attacked with sharp weapons.

"Kiron and Bilu died on the spot while Santhal succumbed to his injuries at a local hospital," the official added.

Over 200 people have been killed by villagers in Assam over the past six years for practicing witchcraft.

Witchcraft and black magic are prevalent in the Indian hinterland, where illiterate and poor people have an abiding belief in superstitions.

Many tribal and indigenous faiths are a mix of black magic and superstition, which are used to treat diseases and cast evil spells on adversaries.

According to local reports, police in Assam have intensified an ongoing campaign to check the crimes due to superstition.

The project includes community-policing measures and awareness campaigns among tribal chiefs and village elders.

The campaign is now focusing on educating villagers and holding meetings in tribal areas.

"We need to bring about a change in attitude rather than trying to enforce the law. We have to create awareness about this social evil to stop such barbaric incidents from taking place," a police official told the news agency.