2 held for branding worker witch

Siliguri, Nov. 2: Two persons of Bani Tea Estate in Ambari-Falakata were arrested for branding a co-worker of the garden a witch and creating a commotion in the area.

Lachhu Oraon (55) and Dipak Munda (48) were today produced in the court of the Jalpaiguri Sadar sub-divisional officer, Atanu Roy. “I asked them to produce a bond with a surety from a responsible person for their release. But when they failed to do so, I booked them under Section 107 CrPC (preventive measure for maintaining peace) and remanded them in judicial custody for two days,” Roy said.

The woman, Bhudni Oraon (50), who was also produced in court, was released after her version was recorded. She was detained for being a party to the commotion.

Yesterday, police at the Ambari-Falakata outpost had received a complaint from residents of Bairivita-Gudiaganj village next to the tea estate, about 40km from Jalpaiguri, where the three workers live.

According to the complaint, Lachhu and Dipak, who had been threatening Bhudni since the Kali Puja night, had raided her house, blaming her for the spate of fever and sickness that the villagers were going through recently. They dragged her out from her house and tied her to a tree.

The woman shouted out in protest, denying the duo’s charges, and the exchange led to a commotion in the area, the police said.

A similar incident had happened on the night of Kali Puja also. “The two had gone to Bhudni’s house in a drunken state and assaulted her, accusing her of being a witch and the reason behind so many people falling sick,” a villager said. They even threatened to kill her.

Bhudni, a widow for the last three years with a 20-year-old daughter, approached the garden authorities to save her.

At the court today, Dipak admitted to have raided the woman’s house on the night of Kali Puja. “An argument started during which we called her a witch. We had told her that she would be killed,” he said before being taken away to custody.

The subdivisional officer said he had taken up the case based on the police report and awarded the remand on the basis of the confessions by the accused.