Police in the Indian state of Jharkhand are still investigating after an elderly couple was allegedly beaten up and burned to death by enraged villagers accusing them committing witchcraft in the death of relatives. According to police reports, the bodies of 70-year-old Lohra Singh and his 63-year-old wife Chorati Devi were found hidden in a paddy close to their home in Tembra village. The deaths had come to light after a witness walked nearly fifteen kilometers to the Girda police outpost to report the crime.
“The bodies had injury marks and some of their body parts were completely charred. The accused had also set their house on fire, but it did not burn out completely. A post-mortem has been conducted. Following interrogation, it came to light that three persons were primarily involved in the incident. All three of them – two persons named Shankar Singh and one Vijay Singh – were arrested today,” said Sub-Divisional Police Officer (Simdega) Amit Kumar Singh in an interview with media.
The elderly had apparently come under suspicion after a village oracle identified them as being responsible for a series of deaths in the village. All three deaths occurred in quick succession leading relatives to suspect supernatural influence. Though they tried to pacify local deities with animal sacrifices, it was the accusation of witchcraft that led them to commit murder. Police reports indicate that they approached the house where the couple lived on December 13. After a confrontation, they beat the couple to death and burned their bodies before setting their house on fire.
The double murder follows a similar case that also occurred in Jharkhand state. On December 9, a woman burned an old woman to death following the death of her twins within the space of six days. Adequate medical care remains scarce in the smaller villages and accusations of witchcraft following unexplained deaths are common. Police are still investigating both incidents.