Cops crack ‘witchcraft’ murder in Jharkhand, brother duo arrested

With the arrest of two brothers at Simbanda village, the West Singhbhum district police said that the gruesome murder of a 30-year-old woman on March 2 was a witch-hunt murder.

Superintendent of police, Chandan Kumar Jha said, the accused, Vijay Malegandi (28) and Singhe Malegandi (26) of the village were remanded in judicial custody on Saturday for murdering the woman after branding her as a witch. There have been 4 witch-hunt murders in the state since January.

Sonua police station officer-in-charge, Kuldip Kumar said that the headless body of the victim, Phulmani Devi was found on the railway track at the manned railway crossing between Asantaliya and Baidhmara on the morning of March 3.

Police were initially unable to identify the body, and had registered a case of unnatural death. Two days later, the victim’s husband, Chakro Malegandi, a railway employee at Sambalpur, registered a case against the brothers.

“Both brothers had gone to Vishakhapatnam after murdering the woman. We arrested them on Friday, after they returned,” Kumar said. On the basis of the confession statement of the accused the weapon used to behead the woman, a sickle, along with the head of the victim, kept hidden in bushes, were recovered.

Quoting the confession statement of the duo, Kumar said that while Vijay was suffering from a sexual disease, Singhe had bouts of severe stomach pain. Their youngest brother’s newborn child had died recently. Both accused believed that Phulmani was a witch and hence, the scourge behind the problems.

The brothers went to the extent of organising a village meeting, where Phulmani was officially tried to be declared as a witch. Some village residents even tried to convince her husband that she was a witch. But, Phulmani’s husband, Chakro, intervened and protected her. On March 2, around 7pm, both attacked Phulmani , while she was returning from the weekly village market, and beheaded her, Kumar said.

Before escaping, the brothers had told a village resident that they had murdered a witch. The person informed Phulmani’s husband, who registered the case, he added.

“The accused have showed no signs of remorse. Instead they believe that they had rightfully murdered an evil witch. Despite continuous awareness measures by police and social organisations, people still believe in witches and oracles,” Kumar said.

First Published:
Mar 17, 2019 01:16 IST

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