Mystery surrounds death of a woman accused of 'practicing witchcraft'

Published On: December 12, 2016 01:10 AM NPT By: Madhusudan Guragain

KAVRE, Dec 12: A woman in Sano Bangthali-7 of Kavrepalanchok district was fed with feces and tortured before being beaten to death for 'practicing witchcraft', according to a complaint filed by the victim's maternal family on Sunday.

The victim - Laxmi Nepali, 32, was tied with ropes, beaten and fed with feces by locals Hira Lama and his mother Kaili Tamang on December 5, states the complaint filed by her brother, Lok Bahadur Pariyar. Five days after the incident, Laxmi was reportedly found dead under mysterious circumstances. 

The victim's family members suspect that her death is connected with the previous incident of her being accused of practicing witchcraft. They have accused Hira and Kaili of murdering her after five days of the incident. The victim's family has demanded stern action against the accused.

However, District Police Office (DPO), Kavre, has termed the complaint and accusation as 'baseless' and dismissed the link between the murder and the previous incident.

Organizing a press conference on Sunday, Superintendent of Police (SP) Sahakul Bahadur Thapa, chief of the DPO, said, "The victim died five days after the reported incident. Yet, there is no proof that she was forced into eating feces on accusation of practicing witchcraft." The police added that they are still investigating the case."Why was not Laxmi sent to hospital even after being severely beaten?" he questioned.

Locals have accused Chaubas Police Post of being aware about the incident, but taking no legal action and choosing to settle the matter arbitrarily. SP Thapa again wasted no time to refute the accusation. 

"Preliminary investigation into the incident as well as the arbitration paper signed by both parties on December 8, three days after the reported incident of mistreatment, too does not state that the victim was treated inhumanely for practicing witchcraft. But we are still investigating the case."

The victim's brother, Lok Bahadur, said that Hira and Kaili had beaten his sister accusing her of speaking foul language. Not satisfied with the beatings, Kaili and her neighbor Nirmaya had also filed written complaint against Laxmi in Chaubas Police Post the next day.

"Following the complaint, we settled the dispute between the two parties through arbitration in presence of 15 locals. Laxmi was made to apologize and was handed up-and-down punishment for 50 times," said Assistant Inspector Prem Pukar Chaudhary of Chaubas Police Post, adding that no one had said that Laxmi was made to eat feces during the arbitration.

The story took a new twist when Laxmi's husband Milan, who was in Kathmandu, immediately returned home after learning about the dispute the very next day. According to locals, the couple drank lots of alcoholic drinks during a marriage ceremony on December 8. The next day, the couple got into dispute and Milan hit her with baton, said Laxmi's mother Bishnu Maya.

Following the dispute, Laxmi had then left for her maternal home the next day and had been staying there. And mysteriously, her body was found about 200 meters away from her home in a shed of Ram Bahadur Upreti. Locals informed the police after discovering the body.

Laxmi had bruises under her right eye, forehead, and traces of bloods from her nose, according to police. Her dead body has been sent to Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital (TUTH) in the capital for post mortem.

A team of human rights activists from National Human Rights Commission is on their way to the incident site. They are expected to reach there on Monday morning, according to Bhoj Raj Timilsina, a human rights activist.

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