History of Witch Hunting

In Assam and the North East, practising witchcraft or black magic dates back hundreds of years. Mayong was once known as the Indian Capital of Black Magic. Basically, the Assamese society has tribal roots. So some beliefs which prevailed in tribal society are still in existence. Such beliefs have become stronger with increasing social conflicts, and also as a result of the breakdown of old social ties and values, with the onset of globalization which has made people insecure.

In Assam, more than 500 people have been killed, and 116 official cases of witch killing have been registered since 2011 in the state.
During the last few years many
witcheshave been beheaded and buried in the villages in at least 12 of the 27 districts of Assam.
According to the CID, it had registered 10 cases in 2008, 29 in 2011, 14 in 2012 and 16 in 2013. According to the Assam Police sources, a total of 85 cases have been registered between 2011 and Feb 2014.
Though it is seen that it is women who are mostly branded as
witches, yet in a few cases in Kokrajhar, Chirang and Baksa districts, males were branded as witchestoo. In Assamese male witches are also called Dainithough the word is a feminine word.

Witch Hunting in other States:
This practice or belief is prevalent in other states of India also. In Jharkhand, in 2001, the Jharkhand government passed the Dayan Pratha Unmoolan (Prevention of witch practice) Act. In Rajasthan also, this practice prevails, for which the Rajasthan government passed the Rajasthan Womens Bill in 2012, which says that it is illegal to call a woman a dayanaccusing her of performing witchcraft that leads to harm.
In Odisha there are cases of witch hunting. Chattisgarh also passed the (Witchcraft Atrocities Prevention Act) in 2005 to stop such crimes. Tripura, where majority are Adavasi, has witnessed incidents of witch hunting. Laxmi Devi Burma, AIDWA activist from Tripura, campaigning for Left Front, was a tea garden worker; she was
declared a witch by members of the Indigenous People Front of Tripura in collusion with other residents of the village, and was murdered. (Frontline
Nov-11-24, 2000), Article by T K Rajalakshmi.
In Andhra Pradesh, according to the government, in the last two years 147 such murders have taken place. In West Bengal also, in certain pockets Like Pachim Medhinipur, Dubrajpur village in Daspur area, Malda, Purulia, Bankura, Birbhum (The Telegraph 22/6/2011) such practices prevail. In Bijli and Tara village of Raipur district of Madhya Pradesh, in Gaandi, Pordha, Haripuri village of Ranchi district such incidents of witch killing and naked parading of women branded as witches have taken place. In Madhya Pradesh they are called
Tonahi(witch). In Bihar also, such a practice prevails among the tribal communities. People never consider it to be a crime to kill witches.

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