A family of four in India, including three women, were tortured with a hot iron rod and forced to eat human excreta over allegations that they practiced witchcraft, reports said.

The horrific incident occurred in Aswari village in the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand over the weekend. The police arrested six people from the village in connection with the incident, local news outlet Indian Express reported.

"The inhuman torture of the four people started on Saturday night and continued till Sunday. Some villagers first thrashed them after branding them, witches. Thereafter, they filled human excreta in a bottle and forced them to consume it. Parts of their bodies were also burnt with a hot iron rod," investigating officer Vinay Kumar said, as reported by India Today.

The officials got reports about the incident and rescued the victims who were shifted to a hospital for treatment. Two of the victims were transferred to a specialty center for treatment and their condition was reportedly listed as serious.

The victims complained that the suspects thrashed them after they were tied to a pole and pushed them out of their homes, accusing them to be witches.

The unidentified suspects face several charges, including house trespass, wrongful restraint, attempt to murder, and criminal intimidation, along with charges for assaulting women claiming they were witches, reports said.

Meanwhile, the investigators said they would be probing the motive behind the assault. "There are undercurrents of property dispute or illnesses in the incident. However, the motive is yet to be ascertained," senior investigating officer A Lakra said.

According to records by National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) in India, 590 people were killed over suspicion of witchcraft between 2001 and 2020.

In a similar case of witch hunting and torture, a 35-year-old man in India was jailed last year for beheading his elderly neighbor accusing him of practicing witchcraft. The suspect, Madhav Gond, was arrested after he murdered his 65-year-old neighbor, Karan Singh, and paraded with the victim's severed head for miles. Gond was arrested on charges of murder after villagers who witnessed the incident took photos and videos of the horrific assault and shared them online.

Representational image (police car)
Representational image (Source: Pixabay / diegoparra)