August 14th, 2017
A 40-year-old woman and a mother of two was stripped naked and paraded after being branded as a witch on August 2. The widow was allegedly made to eat faeces, tortured and beaten to death by her relatives as reported by The Hindustan Times. The incident took place in Kekri block of Ajmer district, 135 km away from Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan.
It occurred in the Regar Moholla, a settlement of 200 Dalit families, where the woman was also fed human excreta, made to drink dirty water from the nearby drains and smouldering coal was thrust into her hands, her family said. Her son, who was an eyewitness to this incident, is yet to recover from the shock. It was only a month ago that the 15-year-old boy lost his father owing to illness.
What happened and how
The boy has been quoted saying that it was just another casual evening when the string of events that lead to his mother’s death had triggered off. One of the boy’s teenaged cousin and the cousin’s friend claimed that a spirit had entered their body. In that “possessed” state, they claimed that his mother was a witch. The series of unfortunate events that followed next is nothing but barbarism.
The widow, Kanya Devi Regar, was severely tortured and beaten to death. When her daughter Maya Regar heard the news, her mother had already died. She said marks of injuries were prominent on her whole body. Her eyes were burnt and there were extensive burnt marks even on her thighs. The neighbours were quoted saying that none of them saw anything as all of them were sleeping.
Eight to ten people had assembled and some of them brought human excreta from the nearby fields. The boy added that nobody paid heed to his pleas and his mother was stripped naked. “You either go inside or take the place of your mother,” the perpetrators told the boy. They kept on torturing Kanya Devi and refused to hear her pleas for mercy.
Kanya Devi succumbed to her injuries and died the next day. She was hurriedly cremated the next day by her relatives, thus the body couldn’t be taken for a post-mortem. The local Khap Panchayat let the killers off the hook unscathed and the two girls who began the drama were asked to take a dip in Pushkar to “wash off their sins”. A fine of Rs 2,500 was levied on them and the Panchayat further asked them to not to go to the police. When Mahadev Regar, a distant relative of Kanya Devi Regar came to know about the incident, he filed a complaint at the local police station.
When The Logical Indian spoke to Hariram Kumawat, Station House Officer, SHO, Kekdi Police Station (Ajmer) he said, “A complaint had been lodged when we received intimation from the family members of the victim on August 10, but no action could be taken as it was not filed by any close relative of the victim. Later, an FIR was lodged on behalf of Kanya Devi’s son. We have registered cases against four people who were directly involved in the witch hunting case. Pinky Regar, Sonia Regar, Mahaveer Regar and Chandra Prakash Regar are the ones who have been arrested under relevant sections of the IPC and provisions of Rajasthan Prevention of Witch-Hunting Act, 2015. Thorough interrogation of the accused will reveal what transpired that day and what lead to such a heinous crime.”
The Logical Indian take
The state government had introduced the Rajasthan Prevention of Witch-Hunting Bill in 2015 that provides life imprisonment if witch-hunting causes death and up to five years of imprisonment and fine for practising witch-hunting and witchcraft. The aforementioned law also imposes a collective fine on inhabitants where such an offence is committed. In spite of having a law which prohibits such offences, witch-hunting is still rampant in the state.
The Logical Indian condemns such practices and urges the local bodies and state government to probe into the matter. Strict action must be taken against the accused and the ones who convened the Khap Panchayat as well.