Skeptic News: Campaign against ‘witch-hunting’ to be stepped up in Bengal

From: The Hindu

Three women accused of practising ‘witchcraft’ in West Bengal village killed

In the wake of three women being killed by villagers after being declared witches in the State’s Paschim Medinipur district, Paschim Banga Vigyan Mancha, one of the largest science organisations campaigning against superstitious beliefs like witch-hunting, has decided to step up its activities, representatives of the organisation said on Friday.

A five-member team visited Dubrajpur village in the Daspur area of the district, days after the incident occurred, and tried to dispel fear among the villagers, some of whom have still not returned to their homes.

Three women of a family were killed in the early hours of October 17, after the villagers held a kangaroo court and held them guilty of practising witchcraft.

“We have decided to organise a convention in the Paschim Medinipur district on November 3, to campaign against the superstition of witch-hunting. The organisation will involve members of the tribal community to spread awareness among the people,” Dilip Chakraborty, district secretary of the organisation said.

Satyajit Chakrabarti, general secretary, said at least half a dozen of such incidents were reported in the State during the past year.

“For the past 26 years, the Paschim Banga Vigyan Mancha has been campaigning against such superstitious practices. But instances like this continue to occur,” he said.

Referring to a similar incident in May, when two persons of a family were killed in the English Bazaar area of Malda district, Mr. Chakrabarti said such incidents are common in the undeveloped areas, with a significant tribal population.

Superstitions related to witchcraft are still widespread in some parts of the world with tragic results. Efforts to tackle these out-dated superstitions that are often used as excuses to attack the vulnerable or exercise old grudges can only be a good thing.

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