BHUBANESWAR/KEONJHAR:Nine persons, including four kin of the murdered Gura Munda’s family, were arrested by police on Wednesday even as preliminary probe has revealed that economic impoverishment leading to jealousy and superstition were the main reasons behind Sunday’s ghastly incident at Keonjhar.
Of the nine, two were Gura’s siblings __ elder brother Tumba Munda and younger one Sainu. Tumba’s wife Panduri and 19-year-old son Manchi were also among those held by Keonjhar Police. The rest were neighbours of the slain family.
Police also recovered axes, bows and arrows as well as other sharp weapons used in the murders from the possession of the nine.
While the gruesome killings brought the focus back on superstitious practices in tribal and rural pockets of the State, Additional Director General of Police, Crime Branch, Bijay Kumar Sharma visited Keonjhar and took stock of the case which has been designated as ‘Red Flag’.
Investigation revealed that Gura was economically better off than his brothers. While he had a reasonably better standard of living, his children also attended school. However, the same was not the case with his brothers.
Police found that economic conditions apart, the younger brother’s six children also kept bad health which led to suspicion that Gura’s wife Budhuni could be practising witchcraft. This had prompted the brothers to take up the matter with village heads and Budhuni was once summoned to the village committee meeting. When queried about sorcery, she denied conducting any such practices.
On Sunday, Budhuni was seen taking home agarbattis (incense sticks) which again led to suspicion that she was into sorcery. The two brothers, their kin and the neighbours then got together and plotted to eliminate the family.
At about 12.15 am, the group broke into Munda family home and carried out the brutal killings. While Gura, his wife and four children perished in the incident, his two sons Ganita and Sambhu, are undergoing treatment.
Ganita is admitted to Basudevpur CHS while Sambhu is at Sishu Bhawan in Cuttack. The district police is bearing the treatment costs of the two brothers.
The nine have been charged under Sections 302/307/452 and 34 of Indian Penal Code as well as Section 4(1) of Odisha Prevention of Witch Hunting Act. They were also produced before a local court. Keonjhar Police plan to seek their remand too.