40-year-old branded witch, made to eat faeces, beaten to death in Ajmer
The woman was stripped naked and paraded after being branded as a witch.
A motley group of people sit as silent spectators, shooting furtive glances at strangers who enter the Regar mohalla, a settlement of 200 Dalit families in Ajmer district of Rajasthan.
Occasionally, they gaze at the serpentine lane in front of them, the place where a 40-year-old mother of two was stripped naked and paraded after being branded as a witch on the night of August 2. She was also fed human excreta and dirty water from nearby drains, said her family.
Kanya Devi died the next day in her village Kadera, her body bearing signs of torture that she went through, including burnt charcoal thrust in her hands and eyes.
“We haven’t seen anything. We sleep early after coming back from work,” is all the neighbours say, when asked about the incident.
The police action taken in the case reflects the numerous cons of a flawed system. FIR of the case was registered on Sunday against four people. The accused include two teenaged girls, an acquaintance and a man who was the nephew of Devi’s husband.
A graffiti saying that Chitar Regar’s family is below poverty level is painted on the entrance of a house, even as two siblings mourn the loss of both their parents within a month.
“I was called on the morning of August 3 and after reaching Devi’s home, I found that she was grievously injured. Upon enquiring, the family of her husband’s elder brother told me she fell on the oven while preparing tea,” said Uttam Kumar Mirdha, a local compounder.
By the time news reached Maya Regar, Devi’s daughter, she had already passed away. What followed was a hurried funeral and a meeting of a khap panchayat, who ‘absolved’ the accused of their crimes by ‘fining them’.
“I saw injuries all over the body of my mother. Even her eyes were burnt and there were extensive burn injuries on her legs thighs and other parts of the body, “ Maya told HT.
Radheshyam Regar, another relative told HT that no clear reason behind her death was given to them by the accused. At the time of HT’s visit, none of the accused were found at home.
“Both the girls who are accused in the incident were fined Rs. 2500 each and also asked to give a tractor full of fodder for cow, 5 tankers of water and one sack vegetable,” Rahul (name changed) the 15-year-old son of Devi told HT.
Rahul was witness to the entire act of his mother being assaulted but couldn’t do anything after being threatened. Two of his cousins are the accused in the case. “The Khap Panchayat decided that no police action will be taken in the matter after the fine was paid, “ said Rahul.
After coming to know about the incident, Mahadev Regar, a distant relative and a social worker visited the family and decided to lodge a case.
“In spite of me giving the complaint to the police and communicating them the matter, a case was not lodged,” said Regar.
Activists have slammed the administration for the delay in taking action as all the accused still walk free.
“This is a blatant example of how the administration is unwilling to take action in such a serious matter. A woman is paraded naked, tortured and killed but yet no one is arrested for the crime, “ activist Tara Ahluwalia told HT.
The police said that in the FIR that was lodged on Sunday evening, four people including two teenaged girls, Mahaveer and Chandraprakash have been named accused.
“We have registered the case under section 302 (murder), section 201(causing disappearence of evidence) of IPC and different sections of the Rajasthan Prevention of Witch-hunting Act, “ sub inspector Shankar from the Kekri police station told HT.
The FIR has been lodged by Maya, said the police.