Witch-Hunting and Rhea Chakraborty in SSR Murder/ Sucide Case

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Art by: Mir Suhail

Witch-Hunting is considered to be one of the ancient practices. It is an act of persecuting people, mostly women, for practicing witchcraft. The victims of witch-hunting are first labeled as ‘witches’ or ‘Dayan’ or ‘children of Witch’ and later persecuted or killed by mobs or the state. The main cause of Witch-hunting can be found in superstition. But it is not the only superstition, but its roots are there in patriarchy also as it is used to settle land or financial disputes. Women are the primary targets as they have no power, no credibility, and can easily be targeted.  While in some cases, men of lower castes are also targeted.

     It is noteworthy that not everyone can be tagged as a witch. The weak are labeled as witches or as the children of the witches by the powerful. This is the reason why Dalits and Adivasis women are the most common victims of witch-hunting because they are at the bottom of the power structure.

       The educated and urban population of India tend to think that illiterate masses of villages practice witch-hunting. However, the way Rhea is labeled as a ‘witch’ by most of the mainstream media houses shows the real faces of the so-called urban and educated society. She was accused of practicing witchcraft. The accusation was based on the inference that witchcraft is common among Bengali women; as Rhea is a Bengali woman, she was also practicing witchcraft that leads to the death of Sushant Singh Rajput.

    The success of Justice for the SSR campaign depends on fair trials and investigations. But, by labeling Rhea as a Witch, it weakens the chances of fair trails. The law holds that no one is a culprit without being proven, but Rhea is already tagged as a criminal. But in media trials, she is already a murderer. No one wants to hear her side of the story. She has lost her credibility. In political pressure, Rhea was arrested for purchasing weed that has nothing to do with the case. The question is-  if Rhea is already assumed to be a murderer without being proven, how can we expect Justice in the Sushant case?

  Though Rhea is a woman that puts her in a vulnerable position, she is not as powerless as Dalit and Adivasis women. She is Bangali Brahim, and she is supported by her caste people. Whereas Dalit and Adivasi communities are themselves in a powerless position. Their support does not validate or appropriate the victims, while voices of the upper-caste are not easily ignored. But it is worrying that if a rich upper caste woman can become such an easy target of a Witch hunt in 2020, how easy would it be to target an average or Dalit and Adivasi woman?

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