Rights

Meghalaya: Eight Arrested for Killing 90-Year-Old Man They Accused of 'Witchcraft'

Among the people arrested are five members of the 90-year-old man's family

New Delhi: A week after a 90-year-old man in Meghalaya’s West Khasi Hills district went missing, eight persons, including five from the deceased’s family, have been arrested by the state police. The man was killed by the accused after they blamed him for casting ‘evil spells’ and that he practiced ‘witchcraft’.

Ten others, all relatives of the deceased person, identified as Moris Marnger, are absconding, as per local police.

On October 13, at the instruction of the district magistrate (DM) of the Northeastern state’s West Khasi district, the Nongstoin Police exhumed the body of the deceased from Nongsidong village where he was believed to have been buried alive in a pit.

A Shillong Times report says the villagers volunteered to exhume the body after the DM’s order in the presence of local officials. After half an hour of digging, they found the body of Moris with “his hands and legs tied up; legs covered by a sack and tied up with a rope while the face was covered by a cloth.”

The news report, filed after visiting the village, said, “Going by the appearance of the exhumed body, Moris must have struggled for his life but succumbed to the force of too many people.” It said, “Inside the pit, it was visible that Moris was buried with a Cross and many stones to ensure that he couldn’t escape from the pit.”

A post mortem of the body was carried out in the presence of the magistrate and the police thereafter.

As per the news report, his nephews Yesparius Marngar and Barsolmius Marngar told the newspaper correspondent that they approved of the killing as he “had cast an evil spell on his niece, Sildaris Marngar, and other family members too.” They claimed the deceased used to indulge in “witchcraft” and continued to cast “evil spells” on family members.

As per the deputy superintendent of police B.K. Kharjana, 18 family members were involved in the crime. While eight of them have been arrested, the others are on the run.

This past October 12, police had arrested five others, all relatives of Moris, for their alleged involvement in the crime. Three of them have been accused of burying the man alive.

The arrest and the subsequent investigation have taken place on the basis of an FIR filed by Moris’s daughter Mildres Lyngkhoi. She said on October 6, around 7 pm, about 7-8 people, including the nephews, arrived at their house and forcibly took her father away, saying he has to attend something important in the Nongsidong village and since then he went missing.

Following the FIR stating about his disappearance, the police reportedly conducted an investigation and found out that he was confined at his niece’s house in that village and was taken to a place nearby the next day where he was buried alive.

This past March, one other person was killed and eight others injured in the state in another incident where the person was accused of witchcraft.