Odisha's Jhadabandh villagers seek protection from witchcraft, Gangpur Police in bind

Sources said the administration even organised a health camp and conducted health check-up of all the students of Garudeswar school.
For representational purpose only. (Express Illustration)
For representational purpose only. (Express Illustration)

BERHAMPUR: The Gangpur administration has found itself in a piquant situation after residents of Jhadabandh village approached the local police seeking protection from ‘black magic’.On Friday, the villagers lodged a complaint with Gangpur police against an unknown witchcraft practitioner alleging that he was responsible for schoolgirls falling sick in the area.

They claimed that girl students of Sri Sri Garudeswar High School have become unconscious during school hours thrice in the last fortnight due to sorcery. Two weeks back, a girl from the school fell unconscious while reciting prayers. Subsequently, seven other girls also lost their consciousness on the school premises. The last such incident took place on Friday.

Suspecting witchcraft as the reason behind the incidents, the villagers informed the block officials. Subsequently, a health team reached the school and examined the eight girls who fell unconscious. After carrying out necessary check-ups, the team members said some of the girls were suffering from low blood pressure which might be the reason behind falling unconscious.

However, the villagers refused to believe the health team and lodged an FIR with the police seeking its intervention in the matter. Taken aback by the villager’s complaint, Gangapur IIC Shuvendu Kumar Sahu organised an awareness programme and advised them not to believe in superstitions and black magic. He also asked the villagers to provide proper treatment to the girls.

Sources said the administration even organised a health camp and conducted health check-ups of all the students of Garudeswar school. However, the parents of most of the girls were still not convinced. The IIC then assured the villagers of placing the matter at the district Collector’s grievance cell scheduled to be held at Dharakote on Monday.

Notably, superstitious beliefs continue to grip the rural populace in Ganjam despite frantic efforts by the district administration to eradicate the social evil. Every year, the district witnesses several incidents of sorcery-related violence. In a bid to dispel the irrational beliefs, the former Collector of Ganjam Vijay Amruta Kulange had even announced a cash award for anyone who can prove the existence of ghosts and evil spirits.

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The New Indian Express