India: Family Tortures, Beats Woman to Death for ‘Witchcraft’

Indian woman tortured and killed by family for witchcraft

The UK Daily Mail tells the horrific story of an Indian woman’s alleged torture and murder at the hands of her own family, because they thought she was a witch.

As reported by the Daily Mail:

Kanya Devi, 40, was subjected to horrific abuse, which is said to have included her being stripped off her clothes, forced to eat faeces and burned on a firepit, before having her eyes gouged out with burning embers and a hot rod.

Ms Devi, a widow from the village of Kadera, Ajmer District, Rajasthan State, Northern India, died from her injuries, with the accused family members then burning her body to hide evidence, local police say.

Five people, including Ms. Devi’s niece and nephew, have now been arrested in connection with her death.

However, the Daily Mail notes that police are not optimistic about securing a conviction because vital evidence was destroyed when the victim was cremated. Also, the village elders already administered justice by requiring the perpetrators to take a cleansing holy bath in the nearest river and then sentencing them to cow-feeding duty.

Nevertheless, the five suspects mentioned by the Daily Mail have been booked under the Rajasthan Prevention of Witch Hunting Act. Local activists said the witchcraft charges were just a flimsy excuse to murder Kanya Devi so that her late husband’s relatives could grab some property he bequeathed her.

As with many such stories from rural India, there are allegations the family and village elders have obstructed justice by intimidating potential witnesses. Bureaucracy played a role in the slow investigation as well, with police saying they could not launch a full investigation until a close family member filed a formal complaint. The village elders acted swiftly to cremate the body, and it then took eleven days for the police to secure the remains.

According to the Hindu, it took a day for Devi to die of her injuries. The specific allegation of witchcraft against her was that she used black magic to kill her husband and brother-in-law so she could get their land.

Sorcery is still a factor in the case, according to the Hindustan Times, because one of the accused, Devi’s nephew Mahaveer Regar, claims an evil spirit possessed the two teenaged female perpetrators and supervised the assault. He even identified the evil spirit by name, calling it Bhairu Nath Ji.

“Bhairu Nath Ji entered the body of the girls who then told me to bring the excreta and dirty water. I did as they said as it was the spirit who commanded that. One of the girls pulled the hair of Devi while the other held her hand,” Regar testified.

The Hindustan Times describes the interrogation video of Regar “quite nonchalantly” recounting the horrible details of his aunt’s murder as “chilling.”


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