A woman belonging to the Scheduled Caste (SC) community was burnt alive at her home after locals declared her a witch in Gaya district of Bihar on Saturday evening.

The incident happened in a remote hilly region of Pachmah village under Maigra police station limits bordering the forests of Jharkhand.

Locals attacked and forced the local police team to return that had reached the spot to rescue the woman, identified as Rita Devi, 45, wife of Arjun Das.

Additional reinforcement under Imamganj SDPO Manoj Ram was rushed to the place only to find the body of the woman that was later sent to Gaya for post-mortem.

A case under sections 302 and 436 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and provisions of Witchcraft Act was registered and nine women were arrested in the case. A search is on to apprehend the men accused in the murder, said senior superintendent of police (SSP) Harpreet Kaur.

A team from the forensic science lab (FSL) in Patna has reached the spot and collected samples from the area.

One month ago, one Parmeshwar Bhuiyan of the village had died of prolonged ailment, but the family believed that Rita Devi had killed him through witchcraft.

Rita belonged to the Das community and Parmeshwar to the Bhuiyan community. Both the families and their supporters were on loggerheads since the death.

On Saturday, Parmeshwar’s family called an exorcist from Jharkhand who claimed to have made the woman confess to the killing using witchcraft before a panchayat that was called in afternoon. However, the exorcist fled after seeing a heated environment and possibility of a clash. The woman and her family also fled from the spot.

However, family members and supporters of the Bhuiyan community attacked the victim’s house with traditional arms in hand. While the men of the Das family escaped to nearby forests, the woman locked herself inside the thatched home.

The mob then broke open the room and beat the woman till she fell unconscious. They sprinkled petrol on and set the house at fire. The woman was charred to death.

Her husband and two sons had rushed to the local police station, but when they reached the spot, the personnel were attacked with heavy stones and forced to go back.

Police could enter the village and make arrests late evening only after heavy reinforcement with sufficient women constables arrived under SDPO Manoj Ram.

By Shadab

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