BERHAMPUR:Three persons were arrested by the police on Wednesday for torturing a group of eight villagers suspecting them of practising witchcraft. The accused are Prasant Naik, Tareni Naik and Ramchandra Behera. Police are on the lookout for the other villagers involved in the shocking incident.
The incident took place at Olopur village under Chikiti block of Ganjam district on Monday. Eight persons, including two girls, were forced to eat human excreta, tonsured and their teeth pulled out by villagers. The incident came to light on Tuesday after a victim filed an FIR.
According to the complainant, Mohan Sahu (70), a teenaged girl, Lata Behera, in a semi-conscious state had accused the eight persons of practising witchcraft. She died on Sunday following which the villagers held a meeting and decided to punish them. The eight persons denied that they practised witchcraft, but the villagers did not budge from their stand.
The seven other victims were Dandapani Behera (48), Subash Behera (23), Keuta Behera (28), Amar Behera (18), Kartik Behera (35), Susama Behera (20) and Jhunu Behera (19).
On Monday morning, the eight persons were dragged out of their houses and taken to Hanuman temple in the village. They were tonsured and their teeth removed. While they were writhing in pain, the villagers forced them to eat human excreta. After the barbaric act, the villagers warned them not to leave Olopur.
The victims, however, escaped from the village on Monday night. One of them, Mohan, reached Berhampur police station and filed a case. Another villager, Dandapani, informed Chikiti police about the torture. Meanwhile, four of the victims have fled to Kakinada in Andhra Pradesh. The whereabouts of Jhunu and Susama are not known.
Those arrested were forwarded to Patrapur court, which remanded them in judicial custody after rejecting their bail pleas. Police said efforts are on to trace the two girls and bring all the victims back to Olopur. Patrolling in the village and neighbouring areas have been intensified.