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12 Dec 2016

Killed with cylinder, hacked into pieces - Witch-hunt whiff in city murder

The house of victim Shefali at Premnagar in Telco, Jamsh
KUMUD JENAMANI, TT, Jamshedpur, Dec. 11: A middle-class woman living in an auto manufacturing hub, 8km from the heart of Jamshedpur, died a brutal death last night allegedly at the hands of her brother-in-law who, close family members said, suspected her of being a witch. 
Telco area's Premnagar resident Panchami Devi (40), alias Shefali Gorai, was bludgeoned to death with a gas cylinder, hacked into pieces, stuffed inside a sack and dumped in a bush beside a pond last night. Her husband's elder brother Birbal Gorai, a grocer, arrested in the wee hours today, has confessed to the grisly crime.
Her 23-year-old son Deepak, a Tata Motors employee, alleged his uncle Birbal had called Shefali a witch and threatened to kill her. Apparently, Birbal blamed Shefali's black magic for his father's death after a brief illness last year.
If the witch-hunt motive, which Telco police have not ruled out, is confirmed, it would be shocking even for Jharkhand. Though the state has seen over 50 witch-hunt deaths this year, they have occurred in rural belts. Shefali's murder would prove that the superstition of blaming women for all ills had its vice-like grip even in an industrial hub.
Deepak, who narrated the events, said he was at work past midnight when he got a call from his worried father Shersingh, an employee in a private firm, saying he didn't see Shefali at home after he returned from work. Deepak rushed home, where his uncle Birbal and aunt Mina also live.
"My father and I searched for my mother everywhere. I saw the door of my uncle's room locked. But, when we saw blood in the kitchen, we got scared and went to the thana for help. Police started the hunt. Around 1am, we saw uncle's car coming towards the house. As it was an odd hour, and we were suspicious, the police intercepted his car, which he was driving, and asked about my mother. When he sounded nervous, police took him to the thana for grilling. After an hour, he admitted he had hit her with a gas cylinder and dumped the body in a bush," Deepak said.
More shocks awaited Deepak and Shersingh. When Birbal was taken to recover the body, he confessed he had hacked Shefali's body into pieces and stuffed them in a sack to dump it at a distance in his car.
Police have seized the car and sent the dismembered body for autopsy, Telco thana OC Jayant Tirkey said.
"Though the murder seems to be the result of a family dispute over property, we are not ruling out the possibility of a witch-hunt," the OC said.
But, Deepak said his mother was the victim of a witch-hunt. "Last year, when my ailing grandfather died, my uncle declared my mother was a witch and threatened to kill her. We had lodged a complaint with police then, but no action was taken," he said, adding his aunt Mina might also have been an accomplice.

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