Garo panel pushes for awareness against superstitions

Village headmen asked to lead sensitisation drive 

GUWAHATI: The United Garo Autonomous Council Movement Committee has directed the headmen of all Garo-inhabited villages along the inter-state border to take measures to spread awareness against superstitions among villagers.

The move comes in the wake of physical torture and detention of an elderly Garo couple at Da-gaon, a village under Boko police station on May 11. Police rescued the duo, accused of practicing witchcraft the next day and subsequently took them to hospital for treatment.

“On behalf of the committee we condemn the incident. In order to ensure such superstition-induced attacks do not recur, we have directed the All Assam Garo Gaonburah Association to spread awareness against such baseless beliefs among residents of the Garo-inhabited villages in Kamrup and Goalpara districts,” UGACMC chairman, Alex K. Sangma told The Shillong Times here on Wednesday.

Currently, there are 668 Garo-dominated villages in the core area of Goalpara and Kamrup districts, most of which have remained backward over decades now and have not seen the light of development, be it in terms of infrastructure or education.

Reportedly, a large section of people in some of these villages still prefer going to quacks and religious preachers instead of doctors for treatment.

Sangma admitted that age-old beliefs have prevailed among villagers and it was about time that sensitisation drives were initiated to make them understand that such a mindset would only harm them further.

“As it is, 13 households residing in an area along the boundary between Kamrup and Goalpara districts have been ostracised apparently on the basis of false notions. But we are planning to hold a reconciliation meeting with the villagers in the coming months to ensure they are again accepted by society,” Sangma said.

The UGACMC chairman expressed concern at the Assam government’s failure to effectively implement the Assam Witch Hunting (Prohibition, Prevention and Protection Act) 2015.

“The state government has brought the legislation only in name. The fact that such superstition-related incidents have taken place time and again bears testimony to the lack of sincerity on the part of the authorities to prevent such crimes,” he said.

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