Assault and setting on fire of a tribal woman on suspicion of ‘witchcraft’ in Jharkhand

On January 12, 2022, a tribal woman identified as Jhario Devi (60 years)  was assaulted and set on fire on suspicion of practising ‘witchcraft’ at Kudpaani Deepatoli village in Simdega district of Jharkhand.

On January 12, Jhario Devi along with her husband Karmu Badaik had gone to attend a sraddha (ritual held after death) ceremony of the wife of Florence Dungdung who had died a few days ago at Kudpani Dipatoli under Tentaitangar police station. During the ceremony, Florence Dungdung reportedly accused Jhario Devi of practising witchcraft and blamed her for the death of her wife. Thereafter, several family members of Florence Dungdung joined him in assaulting the elderly woman and then set her on fire after pouring kerosene on her. The victim suffered 40% burn injury. She was however rescued by the villagers and admitted to Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS) in Ranchi for treatment.

Identification or branding of anyone as a ‘witch’ is prohibited under The Prevention of Witch (DAAIN) Practices Act, 2001, Jharkhand. Further, the victim was attacked by a mob which is punishable under the Prevention of Mob Violence and Mob Lynching Act, 2021 of Jharkhand.

IRAC sought the immediate intervention of the National Human Rights Commission.