BERHAMPUR: In yet another horrifying end to superstition, a man was forced to eat human excreta and his teeth pulled out with pliers before being beaten to death by villagers over suspicion of witchcraft in Ganjam’s Chhatrapur block.
The incident that took place on June 19 came to limelight after a video of the ghastly torture went viral on social media on Tuesday, leading to the arrest of the 14th accused in the night. Police had earlier arrested 13 persons in this connection.
The video captured by some onlookers showed villagers beating up three persons and forcing one of them to eat human excreta before pulling his teeth with pliers over alleged practice of sorcery. Sources said, P Bhimaraju Reddy of Rameyapalli village had performed puja some days ago.
However, the villagers alleged abnormal behaviour by some young girls after the puja and became suspicious of Reddy and his puja. Incidentally on June 19, Reddy invited two others - N Venkataraman Rao and P Dhabaleswar from Berhampur - to perform a puja. On seeing the trio performing puja, suspicion of villagers grew and they confronted the trio.
Though all the three tried convincing them that the rites had nothing to do with sorcery, the villagers became all the more aggressive attacking the trio. They asked one of the victims Venkataraman to pull his teeth out with pliers. When he refused, the angry mob forced Reddy and Dhabaleswar to pull out Venkataraman’s teeth and feed him human excreta. Even after they complied, the villagers thrashed the three and left them in an unconscious state.
Family members of Bhimaraju reached the spot and rushed the trio to MKCGMCH but Venkataraman succumbed on the way. Reddy and Dhabaleswar, sources said, are undergoing treatment and are stable now. Ganjam Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Thakur Prasad Patra said there are others involved in the crime and will be nabbed soon.
Recently, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) had sought a comprehensive report on witchcraft and sorcery-related tortures and deaths from the Chief Secretary and DGP of Odisha. The NHRC had expressed serious concern about the implementation of the Odisha Prevention of Witch-hunting Act, 2013 and the State government’s action plan to curb witch hunting. As per National Crimes Record Bureau, Odisha accounts for the second-highest number of deaths due to witch-hunting after Jharkhand.