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Jharkhand: Five members of a family, including a five-year-old child axed to death by villagers over ‘black magic’ suspicions

The tragic incident was carried out after the villagers, on the advice of the village priest and healer, axed a family of five. The villagers had found that people were frequently falling ill and dying during the past few months.

In a barbaric incident, five members of a family, including a five-year-old kid was axed to death by their relatives on suspicion of practising black magic, reports Times of India.

According to the reports, the incident occurred on Tuesday night at Kuruhatu-Amtoli under Kamdara Police Station in Gumla, Jharkhand. However, the incident came to light only on Friday. The investigation into the matter is being conducted by a Special Investigation Team (SIT).

The villagers had found that people were frequently falling ill and dying during the past few months. The villagers then consulted one Mathura Topno, a priest and healer who resides in the same village. On February 23, at the gram sabha, Mathura Topno gave the names of the family members, saying they were the source of “evil”.

On the next day, a villager found the dead body of 55-year-old Josephina Topno outside her mud house. Inside the house, the dead body of her husband, Nikodim was lying on a cot. In the next room, three more bodies of her 35-year-old son Vincent, their daughter-in-law Silvanti, 30, and five-year-old grandson Albin were found.

Reportedly, the family had been hacked to death with axes at night after the Mathura Topno had given the names. “It was all done in 3 minutes,” said Salim Topno, an accused in the case.

Villagers consumed alcohol, killed the family on suspicion of carrying witchcraft, says police

Gumla SP Hrudeep P Janardhanan said, “After examining the evidence closely and considering all aspects, it was revealed to be a case of witch-hunting. During investigations, it was also found that after a few instances of death and sickness, the villagers concluded that it was a repercussion of witchcraft being practised by the couple”.

The police officer said that villagers had organised a meeting at a football ground on Tuesday morning, where they decided to kill the family as they thought they were the only reason behind the people’s sufferings. He added that eight villagers assembled near the house of the victims on Tuesday night after consuming alcohol and killed Nikodine and his wife Josephina to death with sharp objects. After that, they killed the rest of the family to remove the eyewitnesses.

Speaking to TOI, Birendra Surin, Mukhiapati of Sarita panchayat, under which the village lies, said, “The villagers believed Sarna (the presiding animist deity) had been angered”. Another man said claimed, “We knew some action would be taken. But we didn’t know they would be killed”.

Most families in the village practise animism, seven follow Christianity, while some families follow Hinduism. The 30-year-old nephew of the deceased Amrit Topno is also one of the accused in the case. Amrit is among eight who have been arrested so far.

Along with him, Soma (25), Sunil (30), Philip (55), Phirangi (45), Sawan (34), Daniel (40) and Salim (25) have been arrested. An accused – Salim was arrested seven years back for killing two women by branding them as witches. He had tied their bodies to a bike, dragged them to the railway tracks and had left the corpses there. The arrested persons have confessed to the crime, and the weapons used in the crime also have been recovered.

A total of 13 FIRs have been filed under relevant sections of IPC at Kamdara Police Station. The police are identifying others involved in the crime, the SP said. Apart from Daniel and Philip, all the other accused are distant relatives of one another. They have all been charged with murder, rioting, unlawful assembly and criminal conspiracy.

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