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The Assam Police arrested three youths for allegedly beheading a 63-year-old woman in Sonitpur district on Monday over suspicion that she was practising witchcraft.

The incident took place in Bhimajuli village that falls under Biswanath Chariali police station. 

The area's Superintendent of Police Manabendra Rai said that the youths dragged the Adivasi woman, identified as Poni Orang, out of her house to a river and killed her. The youths suspected that Orang was practising witch hunting.

"The trio forced Orang out of her house around noon on Monday, took her near a river and killed her. They accused her of being a witch and alleged that it was due to her presence that many people in the village were falling ill," IANS quoted Rai as saying.

A couple, who claims to be the priest of that area, is said to have instigated the youths.

After Orang was killed, the villagers prevented the police from reaching the spot. However, a team of cops led by Additional Superintendent of Police Samad Hussain dispersed the crowd and recovered the body, which has been sent for post-mortem, PTI reports.

"Police went to the spot after being informed by villagers and arrested the three. They also recovered the weapon used to kill her," Rai said.

Although the situation in the village is under control, a team of police force has been deployed in the area to ensure no clash breaks out between the Adivasi and Karbi communities.

"The situation is under control now. We have deployed forces in the village so that there is no communal backlash between the Adivasi and Karbi communities," the police official said.

At least 82 people have been killed in the last five years for allegedly practising black magic. In view of the increasing instances of such cases, the state government has decided to set up a special court to conduct trials.

The state government has also prepared a draft bill proposing punishment ranging between three years to life imprisonment for those convicted of branding someone a witch, killing them and abetting suicide.

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