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Tough law on anvil, 'witch' killers to get death

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  9 May 2015 12:00 AM GMT

Assam government wants harsher pelties on perpetrators-abettors, draft bill released to seek public opinion

The draft bill proposes that whoever assaults or uses crimil force against a person, accusing him/her to be a witch, resulting in his/her death, shall be punished in accordance with section 302 of the Indian Pel Code (Central Act 45 of 1860) with section 302 stating that whoever commits murder, shall be punished with death, or imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to be fined.

BY OUR STAFF REPORTER

GUWAHATI, May 8: To deal with rising numbers of witch hunting incidents in the State, the Assam government has prepared a draft copy of the proposed ‘Prevention and Protection from Witch Hunting Bill, 2015’ and made it public on Friday to seek suggestions. The proposed Act will provide more effective measures to prevent such practices, protect persons from being branded witches and elimite this social evil.

The draft bill proposes that whoever assaults or uses crimil force against a person, accusing him/her to be a witch, resulting in his/her death, shall be punished in accordance with section 302 of the Indian Pel Code (Central Act 45 of 1860) with section 302 stating that whoever commits murder, shall be punished with death, or imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to be fined.

The government has decided to ect the new law following demands by several social organizations in the State. The Gauhati High Court also asked the government to ect a separate law to curb the practice of witch hunting, mainly prevalent in some backward districts in the State.

“Those who are found guilty shall also be punished with imprisonment for a term which shall be less than three years but can extend up to a term of seven years and with fine which shall not be less than Rs 50,000 and may go up to Rs 5 lakh,” the draft bill stated.

The draft bill further stated: “Whoever intimidates a person calling him/her a witch and accusing him/her practicing witchcraft to the extent that the person is led to commit suicide, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than seven years but may extend to imprisonment for life with fine,” adding, “If somebody uses crimil force against a person and removes clothes from his or her body and parades him or her ked shall be punished with imprisonment for 5 to 10 years with a fine.”

The draft bill has also proposed stringent actions against persons for committing any forms of torture, including acts of stoning, hanging, stabbing, dragging, public beatings, burning, cutting/burning of hair, forced hair shavings, pulling of teeth out, cutting of nose or other body parts, blackening of face, whipping and other forms of torture. “Whoever with malicious intention harasses a person to damage his or her reputation and dignity, or with intention to sexually exploit or with an intent to extort money or the property or any other ulterior motive, brands or identifies a person as witch shall be punished with imprisonment,” the draft bill added.

The draft bill further stated that strict action will be taken against persons who blame a particular person of any misfortune and brand someone witch. “A public servant who wilfully refuses to register the case or neglects the investigation or tries to withhold facts and evidences with an intention to minimize the gravity of the offence, shall be deemed to have abetted the offence and shall be liable for punishment,” the draft bill added.

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