Kangaroo Justice

We (including myself) laugh and cry at the ridiculousness of the justice meted out by Taliban courts in Pakistan and Afghanistan, but our rural courts are no better…A ‘court’ in the tribal village of Dumurkotha, W.B.  branded three women as witches (and even ‘sentenced’ one of them to death for being the chief witch) because a minor girl Mamoni Murmi died last Saturday after a severe bout of delirium…The three women were accused of using black magic to kill the girl…

“Mamoni went to bathe in a pond on May 30 with her maternal aunt. After that, she fell sick. We came to know that those three witches used evil forces with Mamoni’s hair as strands of that were found on the soap she had used for her bath,” said Baidyanath Murmu, Mamoni’s father. 

Hmmm…Waterproof evidence – strands of hair on a soap cake…The ‘judges’ didn’t take into consideration the fact that Mamoni had been ill for the past three months…

On Saturday evening, Mamoni lost consciousness after a severe bout of delirium and later died. When her father, Baidyanath, tried to take the body to a yard where bodies [of] unmarried girls are dumped alongside carcasses of cattle, according to the ritual, the villagers wouldn’t let him do so. 
“They wanted to know if Mamoni had mumbled the names of the three women and held them responsible for her illness. When I said yes, they dragged the three out of their homes and locked them in the room where Mamoni’s body was kept. Since then, the women have been confined to the room and the villagers are bent on lynching them if they can’t revive my daughter,” Baidyanath said.

This story is not new or unique…Such incidents (or similar) are an every day occurrence in our country because of superstition resulting from low literacy rates and domination of women by men…That is why I get irritated when people talk about the Women’s Reservation Bill as a means of empowering women…It’s nothing but a vote getting gimmick…Instead of going for the top first (political empowerment), the government should get the bottom (social, economic and educational empowerment) right first…Oh, I forgot…The fruits of such programmes are not visible immediately and therefore not particularly newsworthy so why should any politician whose only purpose in life is to get votes encourage such programmes?



13 thoughts on “Kangaroo Justice

  1. Bones, This is so shocking! But you are right – it has been happenning and will continue to happen until women are empowered at all levels…
    Reservations will do little to change the lives of these people..


  2. This is so sad, Bones and these kind of incidents and worse continue to happen. 😦

    Do we still have panchayat sort of small courts where 5 old unwise men decide the judgement?


  3. Bones, I am surprised that you are not aware that witch craft/black magic/ “tantra” are practiced perhaps the most in Bengal and Assam, including by very well to do and educated families in the cities? If you discretely inquire, you will be shocked beyond belief, not only by how widespread the practice is, but by the fact the Bengali “stuff” is most “efficacious” and powerful.


  4. Tantriks are very active in cities also.Close to Delhi,there is a family who went a Tantrik and claim to have sorted out their problem.I have personally met one from AP.Unfortunately,our system of Govrnance does not take the establishment to the roots.There is so much to teach and learn.


  5. Can’t believe these things are happening in India 😦 ….What to do, lack of education and superstitious beliefs will enable people to go to any extend ….hmmm


  6. Tantra and witchcraft is widespread in Karnataka and even many parts of Maharashtra.

    I have been told that many decades back people would hide signs of prosperity as that was sure to invite some such “spell” to invoke bad luck on the prospering family.

    Over the years this has probably dwindled. I know of a case where my class mate constructed a house at his native place in Karnataka. It was a splendid piece of construction and sure enough invited the “evil eye”.

    A lot of corrective ritual had to be conducted to negate the “evil eye” effect. My friend is as rational as one city bred could be but claims that the events were eerie and could not be dismissed as mere coincidences.

    Here I was at crossroads left re-examining my beliefs.

    I would believe that people do believe that black magic exists and use “tantriks” regularly. It is their belief v/s the belief of a sceptic.

    The jury is still out on who is correct.


  7. As horrible as it can get. India needs changes at the grass root levels for anything to really change, what we have happening instead are superficial cover ups, which is worth nothing. It is so sad, when we cannot truly say and mean that we are proud of our motherland. It really hurts!


  8. Comes as no surprise really. Such incidents keep occurring in the remote villages in Orissa, though I`m hearing of it for the first time in WB. Truly sad..
    I completely agree with you. We desperately need some major changes at grass root levels. But like you said(and verry accurately at that), such programs dont have instant results or gratifications and hence dont interest the so called ‘leaders’ of the country.


  9. Extreme ignorance is not particularly new, I just think there is more of a market for reading about it then there was before when everyone pretended things were normal. That’s just a guess as I don’t know anything specific about your media’s history and know that the middle classes in your country are expanding now which means your country will have a different feel then countries that have been affluent longer. I do know that it is good to have a demand for more embarrassing news as it means the people who are educated are becoming better able to navigate raw information and not just interested in lifestyle.


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