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'Put Your Hands In Boiling Water To Prove You Are Not A Witch'

Peiro Devi, 34, who lives in Angada block’s Bisa Gaon in Jharkhand was branded a witch by the villagers in 2018. For almost a week, stones were being pelted at her house at night.

'Put Your Hands In Boiling Water To Prove You Are Not A Witch'
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Tere ghar pe pathhar gir rahe hain to tu hi dayan hain (When stones are being pelted at your home it means that you are a witch). This is what Peiro Devi, 34, was told by her neighbours when she went to them for help. In 2018, Devi, who lives in Angada block’s Bisa Gaon in Ranchi, Jharkhand, was branded a witch by the villagers. For almost a week, stones were being pelted at her house at night. Her husband, a migrant worker, and other male members of the family, were not in the village when the stone-pelting began. It became a midnight trauma for the women in the house.  A helpless Devi, mother of three young children, went to her neighbours but they refused to help her. A few days later, Devi and 25 female members from her family—relatives who lived in the same village—were forcefully taken to the village temple.  They were told to put their hands in boiling water. The villagers said if they refused, it would confirm that they were witches. Devi had to put her hands in boiling water to prove she was not a witch. She passed the test. After the incident, the police arrested four villagers. Devi and her family breathed a sigh of relief. However, a few days later, the four were released. Devi’s life changed from that day onwards. Even after five years, she has not been able to erase the episode from her mind because she is surrounded by her perpetrators and bumps into them all the time. Those faces continue to haunt her. “We just want to live in peace,” says Devi.
 

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