RAIPUR: A woman was tortured and beaten to death by her in-laws in India on Sunday over suspicion of being a witch and practising black magic.

Police in Bemetara, a district in the central state of Chhattisgarh, said relatives attacked the 55-year-old widow on Sunday after claiming her witchcraft had caused her nephew’s ill health. The district is 125 kilometres west of the state capital Raipur.

“Chilli powder was put in her eyes and ears. Then they thrashed her severely, because of which she died,” a police official said.

The victim’s brother-in-law, his wife and other relatives of her late husband confronted her over the sick boy, demanding that she reverse whatever “black magic” had caused the illness.

When she protested her innocence, the relatives attacked her with sticks and punched and kicked her in front of her 28-year-old son. He later took her to hospital where she was declared dead.

Twelve people, including the brother-in-law and five women, were arrested over the incident.

In a separate case in the state, police said that at least three people died on Sunday after a “witch doctor” offered them herbs laced with snake venom.

“The villagers consumed some herbs offered by a witch doctor, who claimed the herbs had power to withstand scorpion and snake bites,” a police official said.

“After consuming poisonous substances at least three villagers were killed and 70 were taken ill, many of them seriously,” he added.

Published in Dawn, October 28th, 2014

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