India villagers behead woman for ‘witchcraft’

An elderly Indian woman accused of practising witchcraft has been stripped naked and beheaded by villagers in the state of Assam, police say.

They said that 63-year-old Purni Orang had been blamed for illness in the tribal settlement.

Seven people, including two women, have been arrested over her killing.

Police in Assam say nearly 90 people, mostly women, have been beheaded, burnt alive or stabbed to death after such accusations over the last six years.

Branding women as witches is particularly prevalent among tribal communities and tea plantation workers in the state.

People in a village in Sonitpur district were falling sick, and some of them “blamed Purni Orang for their condition”, local police official Samad Hussain told BBC Hindi.

“After that they branded her a witch and killed her,” Mr Hussain said.

In October, an Indian athlete Debjani Bora was severely beaten after being branded a witch in Assam.

Experts say superstitious beliefs are behind some of these attacks, but there are occasions when people – especially widows – are targeted for their land and property.

Source: BBC