Guwahati: Assam may soon have tougher laws to deal with the menace of witch-hunting over which 140 people have been killed since 2002.
A law and order meeting held in state capital Dispur on Wednesday evening discussed a new draft bill which aims to treat as a cognizable offence terming, accusing and causing physical and mental harassment to anybody in the name of being a witch.
Punishment for the offence would range from a minimum of three years in prison to life imprisonment, the Chief Minister's Office said in a statement issued on Thursday.
"The draft bill also plans to impose community fine, if any community is found indulging in torturing anybody in the name of witch-hunting," it said.
The meeting, chaired by Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, also discussed inclusion of provisions for common people and social organisations to assist investigating agencies in such cases.
The chief minister directed the officials to incorporate monetary compensation for the victims or their families.
Over 140 people have been killed in the name of witch-hunting since 2002, while several hundreds have been tortured in various places across the state.
According to state government statistics, 12 districts out of 27 have registered increase in witch-hunting cases.
Though around 500 people have been arrested, investigation in many cases is pending due to shortage of police officers with detailed knowledge of the issue.