BARIPADA: Mayurbhanj district administration has decided to form Rapid Response Teams at block level to combat witch hunt and superstition-related atrocities.Collector Surendra Kumar Meena has issued letters to all Block Development Officers (BDOs) of 26 blocks though Sub-Collectors of Baripada, Karanjia, Kaptipada and Rairangpur to form the teams at the earliest.
Meena said the Child Development Project Officer, Block Medical Officer, Block Education Officer, Welfare Extension Officer, Inspector-In-Charge of local police station, Neheru Yuva Kendra volunteer besides president and secretary of block Self Help Group federation will be the members of the team while the BDO will be the convener.“There is an urgent need to form Rapid Response Teams at block level to prevent evil practices of witchcraft, black magic and sorcery which are on the rise. The teams will intervene in such cases as and when required in collaboration with local police or other line departments,” the Collector said.
Meena further said people of the tribal dominated district continue to believe in superstition. The worst-hit are women and children who are vulnerable to witch hunting. The rise in sorcery-related incidents has brought a bad name to the district. The Rapid Response Teams will keep a close watch in sensitive areas to put a check on such evil practices, he said.
The district police had recently launched an anti-witchcraft campaign after a series of sorcery-related cases were reported in Mayurbhanj. This apart, the National Service Scheme (NSS) unit of North Orissa University had also launched a week-long awareness drive in rural pockets prone to sorcery-related violence.
As per official reports, at least 98 sorcery-related cases were registered in Mayurbhanj of which 53 resulted in deaths and 45 were of assault and torture in the last seven years. On October 3 last year, six women were tied to a tee and beaten up by villagers of Madhupur within Badasahi police limits on sorcery suspicion.
Earlier, the then Vice Chancellor of North Orissa University Prof Prafulla Kumar Mishra had submitted a report on witchcraft to Governor SC Jamir. According to the report, major reasons behind sorcery-related violence in the tribal-dominated district were illiteracy, poor health and economic condition.