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Vikash Sharma

Keonjhar: The spotlight is back on suspicion & blind belief-related violence in Odisha after two persons were killed at Nekedapali village in Keonjhar district. As similar incidents are frequently being reported from tribal-dominated Keonjhar district, it gives a sense that people are yet to shun such superstitions and blind beliefs which still dominate social practices in remote areas of the State.

From reports of ‘sorcerers’ attempting to resurrect the dead at hospitals to killings over witchcraft suspicion, Keonjhar district is yet to come to terms with reality at a time when the country is making rapid strides towards development and aiming for the  moon.

As per reports, 60 persons were killed over such blind belief and superstition-related violence in the last 10 years in Keonjhar district. In 2018 alone, 18 people were murdered over witchcraft suspicion in different parts of the State.

It is pertinent to mention here that former DGP RP Sharma had unveiled a memorial for witch hunt victims at Keonjhar and launched an awareness drive against witchcraft practice. However, it seems that such initiatives have failed to generate any positive response so far.

In the latest incident, one Subhash Munda and her nephew Chetan Munda were killed over witchcraft suspicion at Nekedapali village in the district on Monday night.

Suspecting that Subhas Munda had cast some black magic spell, one Ram Munda along with some youths of the same village, allegedly strangulated her to death. Later, Ram and others also attacked Subhas’ nephew Chetan with a wooden plank which led to his death as well.

Police have detained five persons in connection with the double murder and further investigation is underway.

“Both the persons were brutally killed by five persons of the same village and based on a written complaint we have detained them and further investigation is underway,” said DSP (Crime) Keonjhar, Suresh Chandra Patra.

Rationalist Sudhansu Dhada said, ‘Odisha Prevention of Witch Hunting Act came into force in 2013 and unless the State government comes up with a comprehensive policy and creates awareness, such incidents cannot be checked completely.”

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