GUWAHATI, India: Villagers using machetes publicly beheaded a family of five in the northeastern state of Assam for allegedly causing the death of two tea garden workers by witchcraft, police said yesterday.
The villagers ordered the beheadings on Saturday to appease the gods after a “trial” into the unexplained deaths of two plantation workers from a mysterious disease that also afflicted many others in the past two weeks, police said.
Those killed were 60-year-old Amir Munda and four of his children. Police said Munda and the villagers are tribals belonging to the adivasi Santhal community, which believes in the powers of witchcraft, black magic and sorcery.
“A trial was held to prove if Munda and his family were involved in casting evil spells in the tea garden that led to a bout of epidemics in the area,” police officer D Das said.
“They said the killings would appease the gods,” Das said.
Police and witnesses said the gruesome incident took place at the Sadharu tea plantation in Assam’s northern Sonitpur district, about 240km from the state’s main city of Guwahati.
“Munda’s pregnant wife and her three young children managed to escape before the mob killed the other members of the family,” A Hazarika, a police official in the area, said by telephone.
“A group of about 200 tea garden workers were present when the five people were beheaded one by one in full public view and their decapitated bodies carried in a procession to the police station,” Hazarika said.