Tribal woman branded a witch, beaten up in Rajasthan

A tribal woman has approached the police accusing her neighbours of branding her a witch and harassing her for a year in Rajasthan's Pali district, officials said Sunday.

Gairi Devi, 40, is a resident of Sarwar village in Pali district, some 270 km from Jaipur.

She lodged a first information report (FIR) against some villagers Saturday evening saying that she and her husband Dhagalaram were going to market when both were dragged and beaten up in full public view by some villagers.

"According to the victim's statement, the villagers claimed she was a witch and was casting evil spells on others in the village," said a police officer.

The woman said she was being harassed for the past one year.

"It seems the neighbours want to grab her property. We have registered the case and launched an investigation. The accused are on the run," said the officer.

Several cases of women being branded witches and harassed have been reported in the state.

According to the draft Rajasthan Women (Prevention and Protection from Atrocities) Bill, 2011, a crime would be considered to have been committed when any person or community intentionally or inadvertently abets, conspires, aids and instigates the identification of a woman as a witch, leading to her mental and physical torture and humiliation.

The bill has proposed a maximum of seven years' imprisonment and fine for those who grab property of such women. 

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