REVIEW based study deals with the witch accusations


study made Dr. Rakesh K Singh (2011),
named “Witch hunting: Alive and kicking” says that the continuous made to badly
effect on their mental health were they are losing the stability to survive in
the society. The secondary data based study deals with the witch accusations
and killings, witch killing and police reports on witch craft cases, understand
the local or traditional custom of such branding and analysed the major cause
behind the custom. The study also says that 2500 womens were died in last 15
years by branding as witches. 200 were lynched under witch craft related
crimes. In the study they says that there is clear cut conspiracy behind the
branding as witches. The legal protection provided to them is nominal and the
punishment to blaming a women as witch and slapping a man is equal. In his
study he mentions that there is a clear mode of preservation of caste structure
and maintain upper caste hegemony.

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the study of Dr. Deepshika Agarwal (2015) “Muffled Voices: Victims of Witch Hunting in
India” it says that anyone can be branded as a witch, the clear cut tendency to
genderise the issue was discussed. The upper handed male community always used
to find out the vulnerable factors which make the women community exploitable.
They were always under the hawk eyes of male community. They become targeted
when they turn down the sexual favours of higher caste males. Single, married,
widowed womens were the major victims of this custom. The women aged between
40-60 were the major victims of these accusations. The mentality of community
also important that the reality of gossips were never checked and analysed. The
lack of centralised laws and the softness of existing laws also does the

The Hindu (2000),A
man forced his wife to divorce and go away from the family, because he needs to
marry another women he loves. When she refused to do that he start to spread
rumour that she is affected with witch and cause harms to the livestock’s. She
was found dead in next day on nearby well. The accusation as witches became
wide spread in our society. It becomes the new trend to persuade a women. The
general idea of super natural powers are restructured and make it as tool to
sub dome women.

paper was written by Madhu Mehra and Anuja Agarwal on Economic and political weekly (2016) discusses the findings of a
social legal study on witch hunting by the Partners for Law Development in
Jharkhand, Bihar, and Rajasthan. It highlights the results of the study in
order to offer a critical perspective on the increasing reliance on special
laws to address the problem of witch hunting. Criminalisation of witch hunting
through special laws is an inadequate response to the problem which has much in
common with other forms of violence. The ineffective legal frame work is
discussed through the study.

The Indian express ( 2015) The
newspaper report published on the 31 march 2015, mentioned that a women named
Birubala Rabha were given honorary doctorate from the Guwahati University. She
from the rural part of Assam was once accused as witch and luckily escaped from
their blade tips. The existing laws which for prevention of witch hunting are
toothless. The factors which pulls the government to enact the law want to be
discussed. These customs were prevalent in our society since centuries, but the
proper enactment were not happened. The reasons were unanswered and yet to be
find out.

the study of  Bhumika Rawat (2016), “sexism and patriarchy” explains the concerns
regarded with the witch hunting and the branding tendency of particular strata
of society. “A women who gives birth to a child, takes care of family, can also
be a witch”. Womens have been frequently branded as witches in villages, blamed
for unexplained or incurable illness among villagers and livestock. The usage
of medical facilities would also be not properly used. This leads to the
increased mortality. The reason behind the expansion of evil practices or
superstitious ritual due to this. The unusual death of a male member in the
family gives a reason to the people reason to call a women as witch. Through
improved sensitization and awareness we can improve the situation. The women in
country succumb to such primitive bias based on gender and superstitions.

Zee news (2011) The
report details about an incident happened in bhilwara district of Rajasthan. Were
a 60 year old women were called as Dayan and brutally thrashed. According to
the women she was thrown out from her house and attacked by villagers. Many
these type of incidents are reporting all over the Rajasthan, such as branding
witches and torturing them. The bill which was proposed in 2011 says that 7
year imprisonment for those who grabbed the land of such women after forcing
them to leave their houses. These reports give a clear cut ideas to us that the
womens were the major category were the exploiters which focus on.

India times (2016) The
report written by Pranjali Bhonde the practise of witch hunting and killing in
the name of superstition still persists in Assam dated on 30 May, discuss on
the ancient history of witch hunting as Joan of Arc, were she burnt alive at
the tender age of 19 at the stake for the heresy. According to this report the
Morigaon district of Assam is now infamously known as the Indian capital of
black magic. The victims who accused under this charge were subjected to affect
the torture, beatings, paraded naked through the village, forced to eat human
excreta and sometimes even raped. The article also give an idea to the readers
that the prevalence of patriarchal attitude and an opposition to womens rights
over property.

India Today (2016) The
article written by Amitabh Srivastava on June 20 discussed that a death is
reported every third day in modern India for witchcraft, and observed killings
of 2290 persons, mostly women for practising witchcraft. With the lowest
literacy, child malnutrition and mortality, the tribal communities seen maximum
of such killings which are miles away from the social main streams of society.
Since the tribal community are not able to assess easily with the health care
facilities, they are uneducated as well. The lack of sensitization and proper
education lacks and which leads to follow these barbarian cultures. The article
explains about the need of bringing tribal community in main stream to improve
their standard of life.

the article “Women, Witchcraft and
Gratuitous Violence in Colonial Western India” written by Ajay Skaria,
details about the ancient tradition exist in the colonial period and peoples
respond towards them. The society
had a tradition to blame the women who cause for the misfortune of the one. In
that period also the organised effort were existed to prosecute women. The
tribal social structure is termed as egalitarian since there are cultural and
social difference between caste and tribe. The weaker nature of women cause the
labelling as witches. In some part of history men also blamed as witches and
they were called as ‘dakions’.  The
author also talks about “Dakin’s usually happen to most notorious quarrelsome
and trouble some women in a family or one who gifted with broadest and sharpest
tongue in family”. Through the study author tries to point out the historical
viewpoint towards witches and witch hunting. The tribal concept towards witches
and the problems of womens. The medieval period were the black era for the
women were they were not considered much and those who claims for their rights
were treated brutally. This study gives clear idea about that the witch hunting
was prevalent among the tribal society in central provision in India. The study
not detailed about the men who labelled as witches and mainly focus up on
womens who aged above 50 years.

article of “Witch-Hunts, Adivasis, and
the Uprising in Chhotanagpur” written by Shashank Sinha explains about the
role of Chhotanagpur in 1857 sepoy mutiny. The city and the people who resided
there contributed a lot for the transformation of India from colonial rule. The
witches and its related believes occupied central space in Adivasi cosmology
and moral economy. The witch hunting created some instability in our society which
cause for the tolerance. In the study author says that those who occupied with
the accusation of witches do not deny the impeachment but accept the position
with all its pain and realities. In the study also details on the existence of
white magic and the ojhas were the one who does positive aspects and counter
act the attack of witches. He gave medicines to the witches caused disease such
us cholera, small pox, chicken pox etc. In the study author details about the
use of mantras and the effect of colonial rule in demolishing the custom of
witch hunting. There were organised efforts were done to remove these type of
evil practices from our society but the cultural and religious aspects pull
them back. This study left behind some gaps such as importance of dans in the
ancient community and the role of administrations in policy formulation and its

the study done by Pooja Rawat and  “Witch-hunting in India” details about
to revert to the issue of whether or not special laws on witch hunting
(speci?cally addressing targeting of persons/women as “witches” or more
broadly, through the anti-superstition law route) are a useful and effective
response to the practice, we answer the two questions this article posed at the
outset: ?rst, who the victims and perpetrators of witch-hunting are, the
underlying causes, factors and contexts that trigger witch hunting, and the
second, what are the most signi?cant justice/ protection gaps in relation to
victims vis-à-vis the existing laws and mechanisms of redress?

article “Witch-Hunt among Santhals”
written by Daya Varma claims that witch craft is primitive human endeavour to
deal with adversity is perhaps as certain as humanity. Santhals is a community
which predominantly settled in eastern part of India. The 1st witch
hunting was reported in 1324 AD Coventry, UK. The main focus of witch hunting
in all over the world on poor working class women, widowed and old. The
community of Santhal were rude in their attitude towards witches. The forced
the labelled witches to have human excreta and blood before thrown in to fire.
According to author, 16 witches were killed between 1978 and 1979 and 16 were
killed in the first half of 1982.  Why do
Santhals, a hardworking people who participated in the Tebhaga peasant
movement, carry on witch-hunting? There is an unpleasant answer. In the article
author mainly discuss on the traditional customs of Santhal community and their
mode of witch hunting. The study made by using the primary data’s were the
details are recorded from the community people itself. The gap identified on
this study were the detailed recording of community response were missing and
the community response towards the witches were not defined. The lack of legal
support to the witches were also not discussed.

study conducted by Soma Chaturvedi, 2008, “Tempest
in a Tea Pot; Analysis of contemporary witch hunts in the tea plantation of
Bengal” reveals a link between witch accusations and neighbours and women
being the main targets. She argues that in her study, there is no evidence on
the relation between land ownership of the tribal widows and the witchcraft
accusations. Instead, she says that “witch hunts are cultural; that is, witch
hunts cannot take place in a community where there is no real fear in witches”.
Further, witch hunts arise from village level conflicts where women are the
scapegoat. In addition, witch hunts are products of the prevalence of disease
that provides the excuse or justification for the need for a witch hunt.
Finally, the factors such as gender, poor health care, poor legal aid and
belief in witches lead to witch hunts in the plantations. 

Gladson Dungdung8 in his work “Hunting
Witches or Hunting Women? (2004) illustrated how two innocent women of a
small village in Jharkhand, became victim of witch hunting and how they were
beaten to death. He agrees with Chanda (2005) and states that the root cause is
the patriarchal system. Men use weapons like witch-hunting to get rid of women
they fear. In the Adivasi communities, it is largely women who are considered
to have an evil influence and thus, capable of being witches. Witch hunting is
common among the Santhal, Munda, Oraon and Kharia Adivasis. And, according to
him, “Jharkhand is the worst affected state with witch hunting cases, holding
police records of 517 Adivasi women being killed in 10 districts in the past
decade. Among them 124 women were killed in Ranchi alone, 109 in West
Singhbhum, 104 in Lohardaga, 89 in Gumla, 38 in Palamu, 17 in Garhwa, 15 in
Hazaribagh, 10 in East Singhbhum, 8 in Kodarma and 3 in Dhanbad. Andhra Pradesh
ranks second in position with 147 cases of witch killing in 1999- 2000. In
Assam, 200 murder cases were filed for witch hunting. 5 cases of witch killing
were filed in Bihar in 2001. There were several cases of witch-hunting, which
were never brought to the attention of police because women are not aware about
their rights and lack social security”.

Navayan (2011) who has studied a few cases of
witch-hunting in the Telangana region of Andhra Pradesh stated that in most of
the cases, women are the victims; that too women belonging to Dalit Bahujan
castes. One Dalit woman belonging to Kannepalli village of Luxettipet mandal,
Adilabad district was killed by non-Dalits who suspected her to be a witch. In
some cases, if women had properties in their names, their own family members
projected those women as witches and killed them. And in other instances, many
Dalit women were exploited and if some of them refused to yield, they were branded
as witches, paraded nude, and later killed. In one instance, one Dalit family
head was killed in the name of practicing witchcraft just because he refused to
vote for a particular party. Even
the superstitions are used as oppressive methods against Dalits and Dalit
women. There are several interconnected social, political and economic causes
for the continued existence of these superstitions. One of the examples is of
Ilamma (60) who belonged to a Scheduled Caste (Mala). She stayed along with her
husband, a daughter and a son. The whole village of Warangal district in
Telangana region believed her to be a witch and held her responsible if the
buffaloes stopped giving milk, or if children fell ill. In the year 2000,
villagers boycotted her family. In due course, her daughter-in-law, also
started projecting Ilamma as a witch, probably because she felt the old woman
was a heavy burden to feed, and held her responsible for her father’s death.
Ilamma left the village and went to her sister’s place in Bethikal village in
Karimnagar district. After three years, one night in 2003, the village
suspected that Ilamma had placed lemons before a few houses. The villagers,
reportedly, searched Ilamma’s house and found some lemons and turmeric powder
in a bag. The furious villagers made her eat human excreta; they accused Ilamma
of wandering around the village, at midnight, on amavasya and pournami days.


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