Mob beat couple to death over witchcraft allegations

A mob beat to death an elderly couple accused of witchcraft in eastern India, police said Saturday, the second such killing in the region in two weeks.

Three people have been arrested over the lynching, police said, adding that the couple, both in their late sixties, had been suspected of using black magic to kill their neighbours in a remote tribal district of Jharkhand state.

After rumours spread that the couple had killed four people with witchcraft, the mob set upon them, beating them to death and burning down their house.

“The accused said they killed the couple in revenge to the death of their four relatives, who they believe were killed by the couple using witchcraft,” local police officer Amit Kumar Singh told AFP.

Last week, in another village in the improvised state, a 60-year-old woman was burnt to death by her neighbour on suspicion of having used black magic to kill a newborn baby.

Police arrested the neighbour on charges of murder.

Experts say belief in witchcraft and the occult remains widespread in many tribal and remote areas of India, where occasional incidents of human sacrifices have also been reported.

More than 2,000 people were killed in India on suspicion of witchcraft between 2000 and 2012, according to the most recent figures from the National Crime Records Bureau. Many of the victims were women.

Some states, including Orissa, have introduced special laws to try to curb crimes against people accused of witchcraft and superstition.

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