A tantrik (witch doctor) allegedly beheaded a 4-year-old adivasi girl in Assam and offered her as a sacrifice, believing that the act will help to trace a lost mobile phone.
The girl, who has been missing since October 24, was found dismembered on Monday afternoon. Her severed head and arms were found from a forest near her home in Ratanpur tea estate in Charaideo district of upper Assam.
Police say that they were no sign of sexual assault on the victim. She was allegedly tortured and beheaded by the witch doctor in the belief that the act would help retrieve the lost mobile phone of one Hanuman Bhumij's daughter.
Though the main accused, Abdul Jalil, is absconding, his tantrik assistant Ariful Ali, another suspect in the case, was arrested along with Hanuman Bhumij. The locals reportedly caught both of them hours after the girl went missing. However, they are yet to confess to the crime.
"Bhumij had approached the witch doctor to recover the mobile phone. We are investigating allegations that the girl was abducted and sacrificed with the hope of recovering the phone," Prasanta Phukan, in-charge of Sonari police station, told Hindustan Times.
Meanwhile, two adivasi women were buried alive by their relatives after they were branded witches in central Assam's Nagaon district. Three brothers pushed the women into a water facility and covered it up with mud and earth after claiming that the "witches" were filling a village well with insects.
The victims were identified as Salmi Gaur, 47, who is the cousin of the accused persons and Sagu Gaur, 59, who was their maternal aunt.
The accused Basu Gaur and Sanu Gaur have been arrested by the police, while the third Kumar Sanu Gaur was absconding.
"We drink water from a village well. But by practicing black magic, they (Sagu and Salmi) filled it up with insects. As a result, we always used to fall sick. So, we caught them last (Monday) night and
buried them alive by pushing them into the well and filling it up with mud and earth," the New Indian Express quoted Basu as saying.
Superstition and witch-hunting, the latter in particular, is common in Bodo and Adivasi-majority in Assam. Individuals are branded witches for the every cause of misfortune, ranging from disease, death and even poor harvests in the villages. Once a local quack identifies some woman as a witch, she may then be beaten up, tortured, excommunicated and even killed.
According to statistics, witch-hunting has killed as many as 132 people between 2002 and 2012. The vast majority of this practice have been women and children.