‘Witchcraft’ victim’s family face social boycott


Jan 31, 2015-

As the family of Raj Kumari Rana, 60, of Ghudsuwa, Beladevipur-7, an elderly woman was physically abused and socially stigmatised after facing allegations of witchcraft, prepare for the marriage of her youngest son scheduled for Sunday, they are concerned whether the villagers will attend the marriage function and share in their joy. The family has sent out invitations to all the villagers, but are uncertain if they will show up. Moreover, they fear being disgraced in front of their would-be in-laws.

The family has been facing social ostracism after an incident that took place two years ago when some locals physically assaulted Rana accusing her of practicing witchcraft.

Tortured and tormented, she was subjected to inhumane treatment and even force-fed human excreta and urine by their neighbours Dharma Singh and Ram Singh Rana.

The incident immediately hogged headlines and became a topic of national debate. And following constant pressure from media, civil society and rights activists, Rana finally got the justice she sought when the prime accused in the case—Mira Rana and Ram Kumari—were each sentenced to one year in prison.

While the two have already been released from prison after completing their sentences, Dharma Singh and Ram Singh are still on the run and are on the “wanted list” of police.

And although two years have passed since the unfortunate incident and the Ranas want to forget the past and live in peace and harmony in the village, the whole family has been facing severe social boycott.

“We want to forget what happened in the past and start anew, but due to prejudice and ill-intention of some families in the village we have had to live as social outcasts,” lamented Dal Bahadur Rana, Raj Kumari’s eldest son.

Although we have managed to establish some kind of relationship with a handful of families in the village, it is still not the same and it may take sometime before things become normal for us again in the village, Dal Bahadur further said.

Last year, the family had organised, ‘Satya Narayan Pooja’, a religious ceremony, and had called upon all the villagers to participate in it, but no one turned up.

“The incident proved that we had still not been accepted by the village society,” said Dal Bahadur.

According to him, the society had boycotted them just because they had sought justice against the cruelty and injustice meted out to his mother. The villagers had not even participated in a social programme organised in Raj Kumari Rana’s house about a month ago during the 16-day campaign organised by local women rights activists to raise awareness about the scourge of violence against women.

While lawmaker Pushkar Nath Ojha from Kailali-6, far-western police chief Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Jaya Bahadur Chand, Chief District officer and other prominent figures had attended the event, none of the locals turned up to participate in the campaign.

Dilu Rana, programme officer at the Women Rehabilitation Centre said that they had planned the programme in which everyone was supposed to eat the food prepared by the victimized elderly, but it had been unsuccessful due to the non-participation of locals.

“The villagers gather in droves during the visit of political leaders, lawmakers and other prominent figures, but none of them showed up at the event organised to raise awareness about violence against women,” said DIG Chand.

Meanwhile, the victim, Rana has been rendered hard of hearing and has problems with her eyesight following the incident.

According to the family, she still has nightmares and panics, time and again recalling the incident and has been weakened mentally and physically. Stating that they were yet to receive any kind of compensation from the state, Dil Bahadur complained that even the sentence served to the guilty was too lenient.

Published: 01-02-2015 09:20

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