May 21, 2011 / 9:59 AM / in 6 years

Gang blinds Indian woman, accused of witchcraft, with scissors

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RAIPUR, India (Reuters) - Eleven people stormed into a house in a central Indian village and assaulted a woman whom they accused of witchcraft, blinding her and her husband by stabbing them in the eyes with scissors, police said on Saturday.

The incident took place on Friday in the Raipur district of Chhattisgarh state. Police later arrested 10 suspects.

A family in Khaira village had been having money troubles and health problems, which they blamed on a 45-year-old woman, according to S.S. Baghel, a local police officer.

"The accused blamed the alleged witchcraft power of the lady for their problems and raided her house on Friday morning," Baghel told Reuters by phone. "First they beat her up and then a few of them held her hands and legs and then inserted scissors into both her eyes."

When her husband tried to intervene, the group turned on him and inserted scissors into his eyes as well, Baghel added. A doctor at a local hospital said the couple would likely never be able to see again.

The brutalities related to witchcraft, mainly against women, are not new for the interior illiterate pockets of Chhattisgarh, where woman accused of witchcraft are often killed or paraded them naked.

Chhattisgarh state passed the Witchcraft (Prevention) Act in 2005 to crack down on offenders. But the law has hardly made an impact in tribal areas, where atrocities against women accused of witchcraft still flourish and the majority of cases go unreported.

Reporting by Sujeet Kumar; Editing by Matthias Williams and Alex Richardson

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