A Dalit woman was killed by villagers in the Dauki region in UP, near Agra, because of rumours that she was a witch. Police said that it was rumoured that two brothers — Manish and Sonu — attacked the woman because they suspected her to be a witch who chopped off women’s braids.

The woman, Maan Devi, had woken early on Wednesday to relieve herself. It was dark outside, so she lost her way, and reached a nearby slum. She approached a girl who was sleeping on a cot. The girl started screaming when she saw Maan Devi, which prompted the other villagers to gather. They presumed that she was a witch and started beating her.

Over 12 women from Rajasthan and Haryana have reported cases of mysterious chopping of their braids within the last two weeks.

Maan Devi’s family said that she had even shouted out her name and her identity, but everyone ignored her cries. The autopsy of her death said that she had abrasion marks on her head and hands. The cause of death was attributed to heart failure.

After thrashing her, the villagers dumped her near her house. Later, the police sent her to a district hospital, that was around 30 km from her village. She was brought back in an ambulance, but died on the way. The police have said that the perpetrators were upper-caste ‘Baghel’ men. No case of braid chopping was reported from Dauki, the police said.

The SSP of Agra, Dinesh Chandra Dubey, said: “Police will take action against people who are circulating a false story that the elderly woman was murdered because people suspected her to be a ghost who chopped off women’s braids.”

“There is nothing like ghosts…some anti-social gang or group is trying to create panic in the region. Police and administration have beefed up vigil and security and have urged residents and villagers not to spread rumours,” Mewat Deputy Commissioner Mani Ram Sharma said, according to NDTV.

Also Read: How Kabali challenges the skewed power dynamic between a man and woman

Get the best of SheThePeople delivered to your inbox - subscribe to Our Power Breakfast Newsletter. Follow us on Twitter , Instagram , Facebook and on YouTube, and stay in the know of women who are standing up, speaking out, and leading change.