Woman branded as 'witch', HP govt forms SIT to probe case

Shimla, Nov 18 (PTI) The Himachal Pradesh government on Monday informed the high court that it has constituted a special investigation team to probe the case of parading an 81-year-old woman in her village after blackening her face and garlanding her with shoes on the suspicion that she practised sorcery.

The state government said that taking note of the seriousness of the offence, the SIT has been constituted.

It was brought to the notice of the court that an FIR had been registered in this matter at the Sarkaghat police station in Mandi district on November 9.   Hearing the case, a Division Bench comprising Chief Justice L Narayana Swamy and Justice Jyotsna Rewal Dua directed the state government to file a fresh status report within six weeks in the matter of torturing the elderly woman in Samahal village on November 6.  The Division Bench passed these orders on a petition taken up suo moto by the court as Public Interest Litigation on news items published in various news papers on November 10 and 11.  During hearing, the court observed that all the accused persons have been arrested and sent to judicial custody and the Mandi superintendent of police is supervising the investigation and day to day progress in the matter.

The court adjourned the hearing in this matter till the second week of January.

The police had swung into action and made arrests only after the video of the incident went viral on social media and came to Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur's notice, prompting him to direct police to register the FIR. PTI DJI DPB