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Witch-hunting thrives where healthcare is nil

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  14 July 2015 12:00 AM GMT

Villagers approach quacks who practice exorcism, rue activists

BY Our Staff Reporter

Guwahati, July 13: A few days ago, Kawe Rongpi, 48, was brutally killed by villagers at No.1 Duar Amla near Baithalangso in Karbi Anglong. The attackers believed she was a witch and could bring about misfortune and diseases to their place.

Rongpi is not an isolated case. Such cases of witch-hunt have become common in areas where rural health-care is dismal.

“Out of every 100 people, 65 suffer from tuberculosis, eight to ten of them are cancer patients and over 40 suffer from liver related ailments. However, there is just one health care centre where there are two doctors. One of the doctors is irregular in attending the health centre,” social activist Dibyajyoti Saikia, who visited the area after the incident, said.

Saikia, also the secretary general of ‘Brothers’, a social organization, linked the growing incidents of witch-hunts to the pathetic health infrastructure in rural areas.

“The villagers are not getting adequate medical care. The facilities at the primary health centre are abysmal. In such a scerio, the villagers are compelled to approach tantriks and quacks for remedies to their ailments. More often than not, these witch doctors resort to exorcism. The State government, as well as the Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council, have been turning their backs to this basic problem,” Saikia, who conducted three awareness camps in the area, said.

The activist also said that there was lack of education in these areas and pointed out that students who had passed Class X cannot even read and write Assamese.

According to Saikia, some 180 people were killed in incidents of witch-hunt in the last fifteen years and some 300 injured.

He rued the delay in tabling of the anti-witch-hunt legislation in the cabinet and was skeptical if it could be passed in the upcoming assembly session.

While the government has sought views on the draft legislation, unless the bill is sent to the assembly before August 1, it will not come up in the session that begins on August 10.

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