Assam: From Superstitious Black Magic to Brutal Rape, where is Assam’s Dignity?


-By Shweta Raj Kanwar

July 24, 2017: Assam, an important destination in Northeast India has numerous reasons to be proud of- from talents ranging from entrepreneurs to academicians; the state has given the nation every reason to look up to it. But, it has also become an infamous destination for reasons more than one. After the recent case of a woman who was brutally raped in a moving vehicle on July 22, two cases of attack pertaining to superstitious beliefs have come to light.

In an incident of witch-hunting, a farmer had been brutally attacked by locales in the village of Bishmuri, Kokrajhar on July 24. As per reports, a farmer who has been identified as Rabiram Narzary was brutally attacked by people of his village on the suspicion of him practicing witchcraft. The victim was later admitted to the hospital in a critical condition. It may be noted that earlier, a student was also killed in the same village under the suspicion of practicing witchcraft.

Following the brutal incident an awareness program was organized by Birubhala Rabha, an NGO worker who has been fighting against immoral social crime of "witch-hunting" since 1985. In a parallel incident in Morigaon, Lahorighat, members of a family brutally attacked their own family member of their accusing him of practising sorcery. The family members brutally cut off the victim's ear. The victim has been identified as Nogen Bordoloi.

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As per sources, police reached the scene of the incident and rescued the boy. He has been admitted in Morigaon Hospital. Police has registered an FIR against the family. But no one has been arrested till now.

It may be stated that "witch-hunting" is a practice which is still prevalent in the state despite the passing of Assam Witch Hunting (Prohibition, Prevention and Protection) Bill in 2015 which aimed at eliminating the rising cases of superstition which leads to murder of so-called victims who are deemed as "witches".

It is sad to see how humans have lost respect and the need to uphold the dignity of another being, leave alone women. Where there is no respect, the concept of indifference on the part of various stake holders also needs to be questioned. As per a 2016 report by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), Assam has been designated as the most unsafe place in the region for women and as if this 'Badge of Honour' was not enough, the rate of crime related to sorcery and black magic has increased manifold in the recent past.

While the state is reeling under the pressure of containing floods and deaths from electrocution, these instances leave no hope for tomorrow. In this regard, is it just enough to arrest the culprit and put them behind bars? Of course not! The need arises to address the issue at a deeper level, not just at the event level- the need to analyse why such instances are taking place at an alarming rate and addressing to them. Before accusing mainland India of being heinous towards the Northeast Indians, why not look at ourselves and contain our behaviour towards our fellow people for "Every Saint was once a Sinner and every Sinner may become a Saint!"

With its rich cultural heritage and an equally powerful and dynamic populace, the state has high chances of being enlisted as one of the best places for opportunistic availability but it is so easy for the state to become famous for its infamous deeds and this is exactly what is happening to the state. After being termed as an unsafe place for women, it may now very well be deemed as a place that has left no hope for human lives. Birubala Rabha, a social activist from Assam known for her relentless fight against the evil practice of witch-hunting must be hanging down her head in shame at the ongoing state of affairs and I am not at all surprised to see this, as a place that has lost all respect for human lives cannot be expected to value the efforts of somebody as bold as Birubala Rabha, the 67-year-old, who has received numerous awards, is a well-known figure in the North East, especially in her home state Assam, for her decades-long crusade against witch- hunting and other forms of superstitions- All efforts gone down in vain! Such a sorry sight!

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DISCLAIMER: The opinion expressed in the article is the writer's own and TNT-The Northeast Today may not hold the same views

With case inputs from Indian Express and Dy365