BARIPADA: A new lease of life awaits Chittan Murmu, his wife Parbati Murmu and their 15-day-old baby. The couple will be welcomed back to the community after seven months of ostracisation by the tribal head or ‘Majhi Hadam’ in lieu of customary pots of ‘handia’ or rice beer.
The decision was taken by the village chief of Jualikata in the presence of Bangriposi IIC Chandan Ghadei, local sarpanchs and community people. The couple, who are currently living in a community shelter, will resettle in the village after they fulfil the demand of the tribal chief.
They had been ostracised over suspected witchcraft after a number of villagers started falling ill. A kangaroo court was held which decided that the duo should not be allowed to reside in the village.
As the rumours spread, the couple continued to shift places as no one was willing to accommodate them.
Owing to pre-dominant superstitions, they were tortured by relatives and family members. So much so that the seven-month pregnant Parbati had to deliver under a tarpaulin tent at a mango orchard on October 29 as Chittan had no means to take her to the Community Health Centre (CHC) or the District Headquarters Hospital (DHH).
Receiving information, CHC health staff reached the spot and rescued the mother and the child, admitting them to Pandit Raghunath Murmu Medical College and Hospital.
Police registered a case on November 2 against three persons, Vima Murmu, Repa Murmu and Babuli Murmu of Bangiriposi, for their involvement in the ostracisation of the couple and made efforts to resettle them in the community.
The newborn, who was in a critical condition and admitted to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) of the hospital, is undergoing treatment.