Monday, January 18, 2010


(Manjula Rabha)
Photo@Arijit Sen-All Rights Reserved
(Birobala Rabha)
Photo@Arijit Sen-All Rights Reserved
These are some of the faces from Thakurbilla village. Post office: Borjhora in East Garo Hills. When iPods, LCD screens, Macbooks and Big Bazaars are ruling India, almost unknown to the rest of the country, some women in this village are slowely but surely fighting superstition, age old beliefs and witch-hunting and the brazen murders that take place in the name of witch-hunting. Leading the fight is Birobala Rabha. She is around 75. Birobala was one of the one thousand women nominated in a group for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005. We visited her village for filming a report. There was warm food, adda, music and stories. In 2010, when urban educated India are immersed in the "art of living" , Birobala and her village appeared to be refreshingly, utterly, wonderfully resistant to regressive beliefs. Also with Birobala is Manjula Rabha. Manjula lost her mother to witch-hunting and she has given her life to this cause. She is also a poet.

Manipur: Schools reopened after 6 months. Government employees are now on strike in the state.


Sue said...

Tell me more about the witch-hunting, please.

randomrandom said...

@Sue: Witch-hunting is not uncommon in some parts of Northeast India. Every year women, are branded as witches, hounded out of villages, often lynched by mobs. "Mostly these witch hunts are just a ploy to grab land and property, sometimes even to settle any grouse that some person with a say in village politics might nurse against that woman. Or they may be directed as punishment for turning down sexual advances. The people who are at biggest risk of being labeled witches are generally single women or old couples with land"/Source: Witch Hunting In India/Society.

Highest incidences have been reported from Rajasthan, Gujarat, Assam, West Bengal, Bihar, Maharastra, Andra Pradesh and Orissa.

According to official figures 2,556 women were branded as witches and killed in India between 1987 and 2003 (Religion news, July 2004). From 1991 to 2000, over 522 cases of witch hunting have been registered in Bihar alone. ( Source:

Sue said...

Thanks. I had no idea although I have to admit your statistics don't shock/surprise me either.