Javelin thrower Debjani Bora attacked by witch hunters

The poor plight of athletes in our country is no secret. However, an incident that occurred earlier this week has shocked the whole nation. Debjani Bora, a javelin thrower who has won several gold medals for the country was attacked by a mob in her home village in the remote hill district of Karbi Anglong.


Bora who is a farm worker and lives with her husband and three children was believed to be a witch by the villagers and was severely beaten by the mob. A woman has been arrested for inciting the mob and accusing the victim of being a witch. Due to the injuries, Bora fears she may not be able to represent India in a forthcoming Asian contest.


“Witch hunts” and the consequences women like Bora are subjected to, are prevalent among tribal communities and tea plantation workers in Assam. Many of the accused women are killed every year due to this.  According to experts, even though superstitious beliefs are behind some of these attacks, on occasions, some people, especially widows, are targeted for their land and property.


[Picture Courtesy: Sportskeeda]

In connection with four deaths that occurred in the village, people began blaming the javelin thrower. Bora, who regained consciousness on Wednesday, told BBC News, “Instead of finding out why all the deaths occurred, some village elders suspected a witch was driving the people to death and organised a prayer. As the villagers were chanting hymns, one elderly woman identified me as the witch and shouted that I should be punished. I was blamed for all these deaths in the village, wrapped up in fishing nets and beaten up severely.”


Even though in this case police believes that Bora was attacked for personal reasons, occurrence such as these are pretty common in the region and in the past five years, almost 90 people, most of whom were women, have been beheaded, burnt alive or stabbed to death for similar reasons.