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Friday, February 12, 2010

Dayan-Bisahi: A traditional disease of rural India with special reference to Jharkhand

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As in some other states, many villages in Jharkhand has been in the grip of violence emerging out of bad social traditions that prevail mostly in the rural areas.Sodag, a village adjacent to Ranchi, the state capital of Jharkhand state of India has been in hot news one and half year ago, due to brutal killing of five members of two families by orthodox villagers. Recently, three members of a family of the same village were killed by villagers. Now why do villagers kill and on what grounds? Does law permit such killings; are many questions you may ask?
Some rural women declared by villagers as witches remain responsible for bad fortunes and even famines in a village. This is the thought which prevails in many rural areas of Jharkhand and other states of India. Now, when some unpleasant event happens in the village, the lady declared by villagers as witch is said to be responsible for that. Now the story may be somewhat clear to you. Villagers assemble and planed to kill such a woman after torturing her to the last degree. The lady accused by villagers of being a witch or Dayan may be made naked by force, may be forced to eat uneatable like excreta, may be burnt here and there and finally killed by the villagers.

Dead body of an adivasi woman killed by villagers

As regards the tragedy I wish to mention here, the story goes like this –A 14 year old daughter of Risha Khakha died without leaving any visible reason. None of the rural population thought of a post mortem of the dead body. Instead, help of a local Ojha was taken. The Ojha told that some Bhoot or Dayan had killed the innocent girl. The Ojha took out the Bhoot and locked him inside the river flowing near the Sodag village. The neighbors broke out all the relations with Khakha family. A village meeting was held in the village Akhara and decision was taken to kill all the remaining members of the family.

One and a half year ago, an old couple was killed after blaming that they practiced Dayan – Bisahi. In revenge rural people killed four persons of the same family and burnt the house.Khakha’s two daughters, Phulmani and Pinki were cooking food. Tuti, Upasi and Rupam had already been married. Khakha’s wife Jhirgi was drinking country liquor. Soma Khakha was heating himself near fire. Three nakabposh (persons with faces hidden under some clothe) attacked Soma and Jhirgi by axes. Phulmani rushed out but the murderers chased and killed her too. Pinky came out of the house, feared and rushed back into the room and closed the door. Many hours passed like centuries. Tupudana O.P. police went to the spot in the morning and sent the bodies to the post mortem.

An Adivasi woman with three children

The Khakha family was blamed of being guilty on every death. Villagers were of the opinion that Khakha family did Dayan – Bisahi practice causing misery to the whole village. Two months ago, villagers had called a meeting and had declared the family guilty behind every death in the village. Some days after Panchayat, a man died. Villagers got angry taking the death unnatural. This served as a background of killing the whole family.

In the end of August2007 a person named Krishna Khoya killed the old couple Matlo Tigga and Phulmati Tigga. Thus, started the process of brutal killing and torture in the area. Whenever a person got ill, the blame went to Soma, Jhirgi and Phulo. Leaving the endless story, I wish to tell you that mostly women are killed during such practices. 9 persons have been killed within the last two and a half year period. At least one woman per month is killed in the rural areas of Ranchi.In most of the cases land disputes are seen as the main cause. 45 year old Saloni Kujur of Mandar police station was killed. She was living alone. So far 700 women have been killed on the blame of being Dayan since the emergence of Jharkhand as new state. 300 cases of torture have been reported from the West Singhbhoom alone. NGOs say that this data is 600.

After much discussion and thinking sociologists are of the opinion that illiteracy and land grabbing are some of the principal reasons behind these deaths. More than 162 cases of Dayan – Bisahi are still pending in Deoghar, Dumka, and Giridih courts of Jharkhand. More than 1231 women are declared Dayan in Jharkhand every year.

There are a number of organisations in the state and out side. A number of journalists have already sharpened their pens using these cases. But unfortunate and poor women are being killed on routine basis. They don’t have any God to pray to. Let some God descend as Avatar for their rescue. From men, they don’t have any hope.As for political leaders they know that everyone has right to vote.

Key Words : witch, dayan- bisahi, Ojha, Jharkhand,

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