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Rajasthan woman branded witch, killed by nephew

Posted on Nov 02, 01:35PM | IANS

A woman in a Rajasthan village was branded a witch and knifed to death by her nephew who also injured her 10-year-old grandson, police said Friday.

Ganesh Kumar was arrested for the murder of his aunt, 65-year-old Hanzana in Bilia Fala village near Varda town in Dungarpur district, about 500 km from here, Thursday evening.

The woman's 10-year-old grandson was injured when he tried to intervene, a police official said.

"Ganesh Kumar worked in Mumbai. He returned home a couple of days ago. Like always, he started quarrelling with his 65-year-old aunt Hanzana, saying that she was a witch casting evil spells on the family members and villagers," a police official said.

Suddenly, Ganesh attacked her with a knife. She died on the spot.

"The woman's 10-year old grandson tried to intervene and was beaten up. The child is undergoing treatment at a hospital," said the officer.

Ganesh escaped from the house after the attack but was taken into custody Thursday night.

He later told interrogators that four of his uncles had died and other family members were not keeping well either.

"He said he suspected that the woman was a witch and all the bad things happening in the family were being caused by her only," the police official said.

In the first week of October, the Rajasthan government approved a bill proposing stringent punishment against branding women as witches.

The Rajasthan Women (Prevention and Protection from Atrocities) Bill, 2011, was prepared by the state's women and child welfare department keeping in view the increasing cases of women being branded witches in the state.

As per the bill, 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 the land of such women after forcing them to leave their house.

If a woman commits suicide after being called a witch, the accused shall be given a prison sentence of not less than five years, which can be extended to 10 years, with a minimum fine of Rs.25,000. According to the draft bill, the fine can be enhanced to Rs.50,000.