Panchthar kid burned to 'chase away spell of witch'

PHIDIM: In a shameful act of superstition, local shamans in Oyam village of Panchthar district burned bottom of a 14-month-old child in order to "chase away an evil spell of witch from him."

The boy, however, was suffering from diarrhoea.

The incident had taken place on January 8. It came to light only on Tuesday during a Ward Citizen Forum meeting.

Local witch doctors Suk Bahadur Rai and Til Bahadur Rai had burned the left part of his bottom of Dipsan Rai, the son of local Dhan Bahadur and Urmila, with a stone and an iron blade used in ploughing.

While the boy has developed serious burn injuries after the incident, he has not been taken to any hospital yet.

Local Ward Citizen Forum Chairman Indra Bahadur Rai said the victim's parents did not make the incident public due to fear from the shamans that they may stop looking into other cases in the future.

After a local representative informed the Forum's meeting about the incident, local community leaders had reached the victim's house for monitoring today.

The victim's father, Dhan Bahadur, told the monitoring team that the shaman duo gave heat under the stone and made his son sit on that, claiming he was haunted by a witch.

After the incident, the child's health had deteriorated further. The child's mother then visited Suk Bahadur's house requesting him to check the child once again. "But, his son Sujan warned my wife not to make the incident public saying his father would not look after us if we did," Dhan Bahadur complained.

Meanwhile, concerned authorities in the district as well as child rights activists said they were unaware of the incident.