Raipur: At least 39 persons were on Wednesday arrested for allegedly killing an elderly couple and their daughter upon suspicions that they practised black magic, in Narayanpur district in Chhattisgarh, police said.
Accusing 60-year-old Dasri Bai and her daughter Rambati (40) of being 'tonhi' (witches), some residents of the district's Mahak village allegedly beat the duo to death on November 20.
When he tried to intervene, Dasri Bai's husband Ghadwa Ram (64) was also brutally thrashed by them.
The entire episode came to light when Ram succumbed to his injuries on November 23 at a local hospital in Narayanpur, Station House Officer Amar Singh Komre told PTI.
"Thirty-nine villagers (all men) were today arrested in this connection and produced in a local court, which remanded them in custody," Komre added.
"As the village is located in a densely-forested and remote area, the incident came to light on November 23, after Ram's death at a hospital in Narayanpur," he said.
During the investigation, police learnt that on November 20, the villagers had severely thrashed the mother-daughter duo after accusing them of practising black magic. When Ram intervened, he, too, was brutally assaulted.
"Later, upon finding the women dead, the villagers set their bodies on fire and admitted the critically injured Ram to hospital," the SHO said.
The 39 villagers have been booked under relevant Sections of IPC and under Sections 3, 4 and 5 of the Chhattisgarh Witchcraft Atrocities (Prevention) Act, 2005, the SHO said, adding that further inquiries are on into the matter.