RAYAGADA: In a first, the Court of Additional Sessions Judge, Gunupur on Friday handed out the death sentence to nine persons for brutally murdering three members of a family of Rayagada’s Kitum village in 2016 on suspicion of practising sorcery.
The convicted nine had held the family members - Asina Sabara, his wife Ambai and their daughter Asimani - responsible for various diseases that afflicted inhabitants of Kitum which comes under Puttasingh police limits of Rayagada district. Not only did they kill the three in a manner that was gory in every detail, they also buried their bodies before exhuming them later and setting them on fire to eliminate evidence. The brutal torture of the three took place right in front of Asina and Ambai’s second daughter Melita, who was the first informant in the case.
Pronouncing the judgment, Additional Sessions Judge of Gunupur Dr Subhendu Kumar Pati found Degunu Sabara, Dasantu Sabara, Dalasa Sabara, Ajanta Sabara, Podantu Sabara, Iru Sabara, Lakia Sabara, Bubuna Sabara and Maliku Sabara guilty.
The Judge also observed that the case falls in the category of rarest of rare case as has been pronounced by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in Machhi Singh Vs State of Punjab. The court also said the prosecution well established the offences against the accused beyond all reasonable doubt.They were sentenced under Sections 302, 201, 365, 342 and 506 of Indian Penal Code read with Section of 4 of Prevention of Odisha Witch-Hunting Act, 2013. The nine have also been asked to pay a fine of Rs 50,000 each.
On September 9, 2016, Asina Sabara, his wife Ambai Sabara and daughter Asimani Sabara of Kitum village under Putasingh police limits of Rayagada district were dragged from their house and taken to a cowshed where they were mercilessly beaten up by the nine accused.After the three members of the family fell unconscious, the villagers, who suspected that the trio was practising sorcery, injected them with pesticides in their eyes and private parts. The three were then buried.
When the accused came to know that someone had tipped off the police about their act, they exhumed the bodies and set them on fire during night.The brutal crime was committed in the presence of Melita, who was threatened with dire consequences if she disclosed the matter to anyone. Melita was kept confined to a house belonging to Bubuna Sabara.However, Melita later mustered courage and filed an FIR in Putasingh police station on September 16, 2016. Putasingh IIC Gyanendra Sahu registered a case and launched a probe into the incident. Altogether nine persons, including a juvenile, were arrested.
Additional Public Prosecutor Krushna Chandra Senapati said the prosecution examined 11 out of 24 witnesses shown in the charge sheet and exhibited 22 documents.
Reacting to the verdict, Melita expressed her happiness. “We (two sisters and two brothers) became destitutes after our parents were killed. We are leading a miserable life and we have no means of livelihood. My parents and one of my sisters were killed on suspicion of practising sorcery. We have finally got justice,” she said.
The court also stated that out of the fine, Rs 41,000 each shall be paid as compensation to the informant Melita and her two younger brothers jointly for equal distribution among them, if the same is realised.
What the judgment said:
Everyone, including panchayat members, their relatives and outsiders were aware about such allegation of witchcraft and the torture meted out to her father, even to the extent of dragging him on the village road, assaulting by means of cycle chain but none of them had protested and come to their rescue.
In view of the above facts and circumstances as well as analysis of evidence on record, I come to this conclusion that prosecution has well established the offences as aforesaid, against the accused persons beyond all reasonable doubt.
From out of `61,000 fine imposed on each of the convicts, `41,000 each shall be paid as compensation to the informant Melita Sabar and her two younger brothers jointly for equal distribution among them, if the same is realised. Additionally, as they have become orphans and lost three closest members of their family along with house and property, Victim Compensation Committee is requested to pay compensation to them for their loss in terms of 2016 scheme applicable for loss of human life. A copy of the judgment be accordingly forwarded to the District Compensation Committee through the Secretary, District Legal Services Authority, Rayagada.