Fourteen people, including nine women, were arrested on Sunday for allegedly burning a 45-year-old woman alive at her home after declaring her a witch in Bihar’s Gaya district on Saturday, police said. The deceased, Rita Devi, was from the scheduled caste community and was married to Arjun Das, police said.
“A case under sections 302 (murder) and 436 (mischief by fire) of the Indian Penal Code and provisions of the Witchcraft Act has been lodged. Raids are going on to arrest others who are absconding,” said superintendent of police Harpreet Kaur. Sharing further details, police said a month ago, a man, identified as Parmeshwar Bhuiyan of Pachmah village, died after a prolonged illness. The family of the deceased accused Rita Devi of witchcraft, after which both families were at loggerheads. “On Saturday, Parmeshwar’s family invited an exorcist from Jharkhand and a panchayat was called in the afternoon.
Seeing the possibility of a violent clash, the exorcist fled the scene. Soon, family members and supporters of the Bhuiyan community attacked the house of the deceased. While the male members fled into the forest, the women locked her inside the home. The mob allegedly broke open the room and thrashed the woman till she fell unconscious. They sprinkled petrol and set the house on fire and the woman was charred to death,” Kaur said, adding that the body has been sent for an autopsy.