Woman branded 'witch' beaten up, forced to drink urine in Eastern India

Woman branded 'witch' beaten up, forced to drink urine in Eastern India

The practice of witch-branding is common among tribal communities in India. Women can be accused of witchcraft following illnesses, deaths or poor crops. (Others)

Darbhanga, India | Jul 31, 2016, 05.32 PM (IST)

A woman from a community labelled as "low-caste" in India, was assaulted and forced to drink urine for allegedly practicing 'witchcraft' by villagers in India's eastern Bihar state, police said on Saturday.

The incident took place on Thursday, when Aarti Devi was dragged out of her house and assaulted in Pipra village in Darbhanga district of the state by her neighbours. Two of her attackers also tried to force her drink their urine.

"From (my) Chotapur  house, I was dragged out. After that five people started beating me up. They dragged me out, beat me up for very long. Then Akhilesh and Santosh Yadav started forcing me to drink their urine, but I covered my mouth with my saree and kept it shut," Aarti Devi said on Saturday.

Police have registered a case against six members of a family and begun investigation.

"On July 28 evening, a woman named Aarti Devi from Pipra village reported that she was tortured and beaten up for being a witch. In this incident, a case has been registered," said Benipur deputy superintendent of police, Anjani Kumar.

Scared for her life, Aarti has moved out of her village and has been living with her parents. 

The practice of witch-branding is common among tribal communities in India. Women can be accused of witchcraft following illnesses, deaths or poor crops.

Despite a slew of pro-poor policies, India's economic boom has largely bypassed its indigenous population, who make up more than eight per cent of the country's 1.2 billion population. Many inhabit remote villages, eking out a living from farming, cattle rearing and selling forest produce.

(Reuters)

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