ITAHARI: I am a resident of Babiya VDC-5, Sunsari. We were a happy family till my husband last month went abroad to earn money. No sooner had my husband left; my neighbours —Kaleem Mansuri, Niyauddhin Khan, Saida Khatun and Rubeda Khatun — started accusing me of practicing witchcraft. When someone’s cattle died in the village, they blamed me for it. They later warned to throw me in the Sunsari River if I did not leave the village immediately.

On June 6, when I was taking a nap after a hard day’s work, they gathered at my house, along with several women and children. I knew what awaited next and hid myself in the house, but to no avail. They broke into my house and dragged me out. I was beaten mercilessly. I wept, cried and screamed for help, but nobody came to my rescue. Then they took me to Rubed Khatun’s house and forced me to eat human excreta. I resisted for a few moments but could not. Then I was thrashed till I fell unconscious. They also thrashed my children. I rushed home after I came back to my senses. But that wasn’t the end of my woes. My neighbours once again came to my house, gagged me, tied me with a rope and locked me inside the house. Later my fifth-grader daughter entered the house through a crack in the

wall and untied the rope. With no help in sight, I rushed to my maternal home to save my life.

The next day some human rights activists came to my maternal house for my rescue. The villagers tried to manhandle them as well. As I had sustained serious injuries, I was taken to Biratnagar for treatment. My husband, who was working abroad also returned home after the incident. However, I still do not feel safe. I have not yet been able to overcome the trauma of the incident. Kalim Mansuri, Niyauddin Khan, Saida Khatun, Rubeda Khatuna have been absconding after I lodged complaints against them. They had asked me to settle the issue for Rs 10,000, but I refused. Even the influential and wealthy people in the village look down upon me instead of helping me get justice.

(Based on Jabarun Khatun’s conversation with Somnath Bastola. Jabarun was thrashed on the charge of practising witchery)