Witch-hunt Islandhttps://indianexpress.com/photos/picture-gallery-others/witchhunt-island/

Witch-hunt Island


On the island of Majuli that is fast disappearing under the might of the Brahmaputra,35 people were declared 'witches' and 51 put through in a village last week.
Ferries at Nimatighat near Jorhat for Majuli island. The ferries make eight trips to and fro daily. The nearest well-equipped hospital is across the river in Jorhat town. (IE Photo)


In this remote corner with an old history of the practice,no one protested and the administration stayed away.
Puneswar Pegu,18,who claims to be possessed by Lakshmi,puts 51 people,including 22 women,through a 'purification' ritual. (IE Photo)

Assam Police

According to the Assam Police,132 persons,a majority of them women,were killed in the state after being dubbed witches between 2002 and 2012.
The 51 who were put through 'purification' included a nine-year-old boy. (IE Photo)


While over 100 cases have been registered,chargesheets have been submitted in only about 60,while about 450 persons have been arrested. Several of the killings took place on the 600-sq-km island of Majuli.
Activists admit that many confess at such rituals in order to escape with lighter punishment such as expulsion. (IE Photo)


Shikarigaon is a typical Mising tribal village comprising 323 households,all living in bamboo houses on raised platforms because of the regular floods caused by the Brahmaputra.
Assam CM Tarun Gogoi honouring Birubala Rabha,the woman fighting against witchcraft in the state. (IE Photo)


The 51 in Shikarigaon have gone back to their normal lives,but Birubala fears there will be more like them.
Ritumoni Doley,who was declared a 'witch' and barely survived,now lives with husband Bharat and children at maternal home in Balijan. (IE Photo)