Rayagada, August 21: Smt Sukri Majhi, aged about forty years belonging to Nathama village under Tadama GP in Rayagada block complained about the murder of her father named Latra Pidika, aged about seventy years and another person named Apudu Meleka, aged about sixty years, an ex-samiti member in Rayagada Police Station on Thursday morning.
She said that her father and Apudu were forcibly dragged from their houses during wee hours of Thursday early morning, severely beaten and then axed to death, packed in gunny bags & thrown into the nearby Languli river. The assailants killed these two men on the charge of sorcery. A few days back, Balaram Meleka’s son died due to unknown reason. There was a village meeting at the “Nisani Munda”- a common place for community meetings on the village street and the “Disari”-the tribal fortune assessor, pointed fingers towards the aforementioned deceased persons. It was then decided to kill Latra and Apudu.
When the police force hounded this tribal village, they did not find any men folk in the village and had to come back empty handed. When this correspondent visited Nathama village, the village streets were empty. One man kept running towards the forest on the hills surrounding the village. It seemed as if the whole village was united not to reveal the names of the culprits. But in the late afternoon, they could bring four men from the village and detained them in the police station for further interrogation. The fire brigade moved to the village to have a search the dead bodies in the river; but the villagers had blocked the road, did not allow to deliver and even did not allow them to go back. The CRPF had to move to this village to rescue the fire brigade.
In the recent past, a similar case occurred in a tribal; village K.Singhpur block where a tribal man was severely beaten to death and thrown into the Nagabali river. The body was recovered by the fire brigade and the culprits were arrested and sent to jail. In yet another tribal village of Bissam Cuttack block, a tribal youth was beaten, dragged into the nearby jungle and burnt to death. In both the cases, the charge was sorcery. In Relipadar village under Kolnara Block, one Sri Paramananda Huika was severely attacked by the villagers for the reason of black magic; but the police quickly intervened and saved a life. Villagers of Badakumudabali under Muniguda PS ransacked the houses of Gangi Bag and Suresh bag and drove them away from the village. The charge was again black magic.
Mostly these kinds of incidents are happening in tribal villages. The literacy rate is increasing in tribal villages. This correspondent also witnessed a number of DTH antennas on the roofs of the houses in Nathama village which is just three kms from Rayagada Municipality limit. There are also few motor cycles in the village. The village is relatively well off than that of your counterparts elsewhere in the district. In spite of all these indicators of development, the prevalence of blind beliefs is beyond imagination.
“The district administration does not seem to be sensitive. Each time a death occurs due to sorcery and black magic, the authorities in the district administration declare that steps will be taken up to initiate an awareness programme on The Odisha Prevention of Witch – Hunting Bill, 2013 and similar such Acts to contain sorcery; but nothing happens after that. Responsibility needs to be fixed on these authorities and they should be held accountable. Odisha should promulgate an Act in the line of The Maharashtra Prevention and Eradication of Human Sacrifice and other Inhuman, Evil and Aghori Practices and Black Magic Act, 2013”, said Sri Rabindra Patakhandal, a RTI actiovist of the district.
“These kind of blind beliefs are also prevalent in the developed districts like Kendrapara where a so called Baba can give birth to his son from his bibhuti. Though I do not defend my community for this heinous act, one needs to analyse the root causes behind it. Systems like health, education, etc need to be fully functional. The Govt authorities alongwith PRI members must take proactive measures at the earliest and in a sustained basis”, said Sri Lokanath Jakaka, a senior tribal leader & Ex-Zilla Parishad Member from Halua village of Rayagada block.