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Last Updated: Sunday, 19 March 2006, 14:42 GMT
Indian 'witchcraft' family killed
A family of five has been beheaded in Sonitpur district, north-east India, by a mob who accused them of witchcraft.

The tea plantation worker and his four children had been blamed for causing a disease which killed two other workers and made many unwell in Assam state.

About 200 villagers tried and sentenced the family in an unofficial court, then publicly beheaded them with machetes.

They then marched to a police station with the heads, chanting slogans denouncing witchcraft and black magic.

'Pregnant wife fled'

The incident occurred at the Sadharu tea plantation near the town of Biswanath Charali, about 300 km (190 miles) north of Guwahati, Assam's main city.

Sixty-year-old Amir Munda, who was killed alongside his two daughters and two sons, was reportedly a traditional healer.

After two plantation workers died and many others became ill from mysterious illness, other members of the Adivasi Santhal community accused him and his family of being the cause.

"A trial was held to prove if Munda and his family were involved in casting evil spells in the tea garden that led to a bout of epidemics in the area," police officer D Das said. "They said the killings would appease the gods.

"Munda's pregnant wife and her three young children managed to escape before the mob killed the other members of the family," A Hazarika, a local police official, told AFP.

Six people were arrested for the killings, Mr Hazarika said.

According to police records, some 200 people have been killed in Assam in the past five years for allegedly practicing witchcraft.

What is your reaction to this story? Do you come from an area where beliefs in witchcraft are commonplace?

Your comments:

A real sad story about a family being destroyed. This is simply due to the lack of education, a problem difficult to overcome but not impossible. The killers taking themselves for god(judges) despite having a legal system.
Dinesh Ramdin, Flacq, Mauritius

I came from nepal, in our remote village, they also believe in such things, and sometime they do very brutal to those who are believed to have done so! I don't believe in those practices. BJust imagine if it is possible to kill other people by witchcraft, then this world be full of witchcrafters.
Shishir, Davao City, Nepal

Well I must say after living in southern California for around five years. I was amazed as to how much Witchcraft is commonly discused and practiced. From Wiccan & santoria to satanic black magic, southern California offers a wide range of support to any and all involved in qitchcraft.
John W., Las, Vegas. NV, U.S.A.

I'd just like to add that this story is talking about the adivasi community which is an ancient tribal community and is more or less completely isolated from even the rural indian communities in their surrounding areas let alone the suburban or urban populations. When you cover stories like this I feel it is important to mention that shocking as it may be to the western world it is even more so to any Indian citizen, this kind of thing is not normal by any stretch of imagination. Therefore, this story is not a reflection of general Indian culture but more of a one off atrocious incident.
Ashwin, Bangalore

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