BHUBANESWAR/BERHAMPUR: Two persons were killed when police opened fire to disperse a violent mob which attacked them at a village in Ganjam district on Saturday over suspected practice of witchcraft.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik ordered an inquiry by the district and sessions judge, Ganjam, into the incident.
The clash took place at Phasipada village when the police were prevented from entering the village where residents had forcibly detained four persons, the Chief Minister told the Assembly. Naveen said there was tension on Friday between two groups of people in Phasipada village of Khallikote block due to suspected witchcraft. “Four persons, including a woman, were subjected to inhuman treatment on the suspicion of practising witchcraft.
Police rushed to the village to rescue them, but were prevented from doing so,” Naveen said. The road leading to the village was blocked by boulders.
The mob hurled stones and bombs at the police and attempted to chase them away, he said.
The police resorted to firing after teargas and lathicharge in self-defence failed to disperse the mob. As a result, two persons, Purno Palo and Rabindra Palo, died and 17 persons were injured, the Chief Minister said.
He said 36 police personnel were injured, including seven critically, as also 17 villagers.The situation is now under close watch and senior police officials have rushed to the village, he said.
Terming the incident as “shocking and barbaric”, Naveen said stringent action would be taken under the law against the persons responsible for this savage and most brutal act.
He announced `2 lakh each to the families of the deceased from the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund.
The four persons detained by the villagers were rescued, DIG of Police (Southern Range) R K Sharma said.
The villagers had tonsured the four and extracted their teeth accusing them of practising witchcraft. One of the victims escaped last night and informed the police, after which the action was taken.