GUWAHATI: The issue of witch-hunting, especially support for surviving next kin of victim families, has evoked active participation from members of the Assam Assembly to find a way out. The lively discussion has prompted the Speaker to suggest an out-of-the-box solution to the menace.
The issue came out for discussion on Friday when Congress MLA Durga Bhumij raised it during the Question Hour. He said that from 2001 to 2018 around 180 people were killed in the State on the doubt of practising witchcraft. He wanted to know as to what action has been taken against the killers, and if the victim families have been compensated.
In her response to the queries, State Social Welfare Minister Pramila Rani Brahma said: “Apart from my department, law and order is inseparably related to witch-hunting. The police have to take action against the killers. Our job is to bring about awareness in society against the superstition. There’s no provision for compensation to the surviving next of kin of victim families. If the Assembly wants so, I can take it up the issue with the Chief Minister.”
BJP MLA Prashanta Phukan said: “Generally people who are killed by witch-hunters are from poor families. Some of the surviving family members have to flee their hearths and homes. The government should extend immediate financial assistance to such people.”
Thaneswar Basumatary of the BPF said: “Killing on the doubt of practicing witchcraft goes on in the State, and the government has failed to check it. Maybe, the awareness drive underway in the State is yet to pick up the desired pace. The NGOs that have been roped in for the awareness drive should also get financial assistance.”
AIUDF MLA Aminul Islam said: “The solution to the problem lies in a tough law.”
Speaker Hitendra Nath Goswami drew the attention of the members of the august House to an out-of-the-box solution to the problem. He said that adopting the next of kin of the victims is a better solution than extending financial assistance to them. Besides other stakeholders of the society, even MLAs can adopt such children, he asserted.
Also read: 10 arrested in witch-hunting case