Anima Basumatary – known to her friends and family as Anali – has described how superstition in India has completely devastated her life. Anali, now aged forty-two, was branded a ‘witch’ by a women whom has having an extra-marital affair with her husband. Now she is forced to live in hiding, fearful of her life.
All this began in 2013 when she received a phone call on her husband’s phone from a woman saying ‘strange things’. With the help of her daughter, Anali found out that the call had come from a woman called Geeta Khakholari from a nearby village, and that her husband was having another of his numerous affairs.
Jealous woman wages six-year campaign against innocent ‘witch’
Over the next six years Geeta and her family worked hard to convince everyone in the local area that Anali was a witch. First, she managed to convince an ojha – a respected elder – that she had been ‘possessed’ by Anali. Then, while so ‘possessed’ she told villages that ‘she’ (Anali) had had countless affairs with men and boys.
While people in Anali’s own village were not fooled by this hokum, the people from Geeta’s village of Sialmari were much easier to convince. They travelled to where Anali lived with the intention of burning down her home with her within it. Warned of such threats, Anali had gone to stay with an aunt for a few days.
‘Witch’ branding campaign aimed at acquiring wealth from woman’s husband
The threats continued for years, and Anali eventually walked out on her cheating husband and began a new life for herself, reporting Geeta and her antics to the police. Anali is of the opinion that Geeta was not after her husband herself but his money, having left her own husband because of his lack of it.
Witch-hunting is a genuine issue, even in modern-day India. Since 2001 it is estimated that almost two hundred people have been killed by witch-hunting lynch mobs.