20 Mar 2006 # ANI
By Peter Alex Todd, Guwahati: Workers at the Sadharu Tea Plantation in Assam's northern Sonitpur District have decapitated five persons of a family who were allegedly practising witchcraft.
The bizarre incident took place this Saturday and was reported to local police station on Sunday. The decapitated bodies have been handed over to the police. Sonitpur District is about 240 kms from Guwahati.
Confirming the incident, police said that the executions were carried out publicly, and added that the dead included 60-year-old Amir Munda and his four children, including two daughters. Munda and his family belonged to the Adivasi Santhal community. His pregnant wife and three children managed to escape.
According to the police, a trial was held in a open field to find out the cause of a mysterious disease that claimed the lives of two plantation workers and affected many more during the past fortnight.
The garden workers used crude weapons and machetes to chop off the heads of Munda and his family. After committing the crime, some 200 garden workers carried the five torsos for five kms to the nearest police station in Biswanath Chariali and handed it over.
Police have arrested six persons in connection with the case.
According to police records, some 200 people were killed by rural mobs in the past five years for allegedly practising witchcraft in Assam. Superstitious beliefs, black magic and demonology are integral to tribal custom in parts of Assam, Tripura and other North East Indian States.
Assam's Inspector General of Police Kula Saikia described the incident as shocking, and added that h was baffled that even in this day and age, people kill people on charges of witchcraft.