A 63-year-old Indian woman, Moni Orang, has been beheaded and her body dismembered by irate villagers who accused her of witchcraft.
“The attackers armed with machetes and other crude implements descended on the village and took away Moni Orang from her house and then brutally killed her. She was decapitated and her limbs were chopped off,” a senior police official, Manabendra Dev Roy, told AFP.
Seven people have been arrested over her death but on Tuesday some aggrieved villagers stormed the local police station to protest against the arrests.
“Moni was a witch and had cast evil spells on her enemies,” said Kiran Teronpi, a man who lived in the area. “There is no place for such sorcerers and so her killing is justified,” he said.
The victim’s husband said his wife was ‘an innocent woman’ and accused the priests of stoking ‘suspicion and provocation’.
Belief in witchcraft and the occult remains widespread in some impoverished and tribal-dominated areas of India. In some cases women are stripped naked as punishment, burnt alive or driven from their homes and killed. Some states including Jharkhand have introduced special laws to try to curb crimes against people accused of witchcraft.