A murderous mob of more than 200 people allegedly burned a woman alive at a village in the Indian state of Bihar last weekend.
Rita Devi, 45, was attacked by the mob under the suspicion that she was a witch. A month earlier, she was blamed for the death of a man with a chronic illness, according to the Hindustan Times.
An exorcist from the neighboring state of Jharkhand was reportedly summoned by the man’s family on Saturday, drawing a large crowd of spectators. But when the exorcist failed to give them answers, the crowd turned violent and headed for Devi’s home.
The angry mob allegedly forced their way into Devi’s property and beat her up before dousing her with petrol and setting her on fire.
Devi, who belonged to India’s Scheduled Caste, was charred to death. Her remains were retrieved for autopsy.
So far, at least 14 people have been arrested in connection with the murder, while 65 others have been identified. Police said they are reviewing video clips to identify more suspects.
Authorities are also investigating possible laxity in police response. According to Devi’s family, they reported threats against her a month before the grim incident.
“We are looking into the allegations. The police could have acted promptly after the local police station was alerted of the threats,” superintendent of police Ashok Prasad told The Independent.
Devi’s family, who were also allegedly attacked, are set to receive financial assistance.
“Raids are being conducted to arrest those absconding. We have ordered the attachment of properties of those involved in the crime. We have also ordered security and financial assistance for the victim's family,” SSP Harpreet Kaur said, according to India Today.
Witch hunts are often reported in remote areas of Bihar, Jharkhand and other nearby states. Around 2,100 such murders occurred nationwide between 2001 and 2012, as per national records.
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