12 including 6 women held for ‘witch’ killing

SHILLONG, Aug 21  – Meghalaya police have arrested 12 persons, including six women, in the “premeditated” killing of three villagers in Smit, after accusing the victims of practising witchcraft.

All the 12 people are relatives of the victims and are residents of Smit on the outskirts of the State capital. The 12 have been produced in the local Court here today and remanded to seven days police custody.

East Khasi Hills Superintendent of Police, M Kharkrang said, that all the 12 had planned the operation and it was a premeditated killing for some personal grudges they held against the victims. He, however, added that things would be clearer after proper interrogation of the accused. All the 12 have been booked under various sections of the Indian Penal Code for murder.

The SP said that there was a “meeting of minds” before the killing and the 12 were instrumental in instigating villagers of the area, accusing that the victims – Yesly Mawthoh, 70, his son D Nongdhar, 30, and Besly Mawthoh, 65 – were practitioners of witchcraft. The frenzied mob then lynched the victims in the incident on August 16.

Incidentally, the Smit village council did not allow the cremation of the trio at the village and the victims were cremated at the electric crematorium at Jhalupara here.

The police said that the village council after the killing dwelt at length about the police action on the villagers which involved lathi-charge and firing of tear gas shells to disperse the frenzied mob.

On the need to have an anti-superstition law, Kharkrang said that such an Act would help, but added, that even now there are enough provisions under the law to stop such atrocities and crime.

There has been a spate of violence in the name of witchcraft in the State, especially in Khasi-Jaintia Hills. Kharkrang said that it is spreading “like an epidemic” and the society has to come together to stop it.

There have been about nine cases related to witchcraft. In two incidents the victims were forced to eat excreta by the villagers.