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Tribal Couple Lynched on Suspicion of Witchcraft in Bengal Village

Villagers were allegedly instigated by the Trinamool Congress headman to attack the elderly couple.
Tribal Couple Lynched on Suspicion of Witchcraft in Bengal Village

Representational Image. (File Image)

Kolkata: An elderly tribal couple was lynched on suspicion of witchcraft by villagers allegedly instigated by the Trinamool Congress (TMC) headman in Noapara village of West Bengal’s Birbhum district on Saturday. The police are also searching for the village priest, who allegedly declared that the couple performed witchcraft.

Pandu Hembram and his wife Parbati were beaten to death with bamboo sticks kept in front of their house after being accused of performing witchcraft on TMC member and former headman Rubai Beshra’s wife, who had recently committed suicide. 

The TMC headman, Som Murmu, informed the couple’s nephew of their death and asked him to take the bodies to hospital. Fearing anger of villagers, the police and Beshra allegedly insisted that the nephew cremate the bodies quicky after the post-mortem.

Later, Murmu and Beshra fled after the news of the gruesome lynching spread with hundreds of natives from neighbouring villages rushing to Noapara. Beshra was later arrested.

According to tribal rituals, the village headman participates in a funeral. Since Murmu was absconding, the bodies were not cremated for more than 20 hours until Sunday afternoon.

Hembram was probably lynched because he was headstrong and helped fellow villagers in difficulties, which riled Murmu, whose words are the unspoken law of the village, according to local sources.

This is second lynching of a tribal accused of witchcraft. Last week, Lakhiram Tudu, a primary school headmaster, was beaten to death by some alleged TMC members in Debra village of Paschim Medinipur district.

Lynching of elderly couples on suspicion of witchcraft is common in tribal villages of the state. Very few such incidents were reported during the Left’s 34-year rule with the police and administration taking strict action against perpetrators.

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