BARIPADA: The tribal-dominated Mayurbhanj district continues to hog the limelight in the State as far as witchcraft-related violence is concerned. This despite the implementation of Odisha Prevention of Witch Hunting Act, 2013 to check the social menace.
The district has witnessed seven sorcery killings this year and most of the cases were reported from tribal hamlets. On July 18, a 45-year-old woman and her 10-year-old son were killed in Dhipabandh village under Thakurmunda police limits. In the second case, a couple of Kathachua village under Kaptipada police limits was killed by villagers on April 21. If sources are to be believed, several sorcery cases go unreported.
At least 63 sorcery cases were reported by police between 2005 and 2014 in Mayurbhanj and 37 of these cases were reported between 2010 and 2014. Rairangpur SDPO Mohan Pani Karua said lack of education is the main reason behind these bizarre incidents. “It is not possible to root out sorcery menace completely from tribal pockets of the district without massive and continuous awareness drives. Such cases go unreported as villagers support the murderer to suppress the truth,” he added.
On the other hand, ‘tantriks’ in these areas play an important role in persuading people to brand a woman or a man as a witch.
District Child Protection Officer Mamtamayee Biswal, who led an awareness programme on anti-witchcraft in the district, said due to poverty, family disputes, blind beliefs and lack of education, witchcraft-related incidents are on the rise. The Witch Hunting Act has failed to curb the practice in the district, she added.