Assam minister under probe for role in abuse of women

DP

Two years ago, a group of people stormed the house of two sisters in Assam, branded them witches, and allegedly beat them up and forced them to eat excreta and drink urine. This week, the Gauhati High Court ordered a CBI probe into the "serious violation of human rights" and land-grabbing, the alleged motive behind the abuse and assault, and impleaded a minister among the respondents in the case.

Khor Sing Engti, who holds the portfolios of hill areas development, animal husbandry and veterinary, and mines and minerals, has his house adjacent to the sisters'. He has denied involvement in the attack and welcomed the CBI probe.

The attack took place on October 30, 2010, at Pan Engti village in Howraghat, Karbi Anglong. A letter by the two sisters to the high court's chief justice, which the latter has counted as a "taken up" writ petition, gave a vivid description of the alleged atrocities while pointing the finger at minister Engti. The sisters named about a dozen persons, including four women, and said they broke open the front door, "tied (our) hands and feet and our parents', and caused grievous hurt to (us) with sticks the whole night". They were allegedly taken to another place the next morning where they were tied with a fishing net, branded witches and inflicted "inhuman and barbaric" torture. "The above-named persons and others even forced us to consume stool and urine of human beings in the backyard of Khor Sing Engti, cabinet minister... and even undressed us before villagers with the intent to rape us, and abused (us with) filthy language," reads the sisters' letter that has became a petition.

It says they had been facing threats and harassment for over six years. "We have been lodging several FIRs at the Howraghat police station, but no action was taken... Our property, documents were damaged and valuable materials amounting to Rs 10 lakh, which were saved by our father for our marriage, were looted."

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