Bhubaneswar: The witch hunting death toll is much more than the death due to natural calamity, farmers’ suicide and naxal attack in India. During last 10 years, 533 murders were registered under witch hunting, of which 254 were male and 195 female including 84 children. The cause for such death are superstition, blind believe, land dispute, political revenge, faith on unforeseen power to change fate, health and wellbeing, sexual exploitation, black magician etc. This influencing common people and many more localized evil practices impacting life of common people.
“The Odisha Prevention of Witch-hunting Act, 2013 is only for the female victim, the male yet to be included in it. Instigators of such practices should come under the preview of Law too said Ms Sashiprava Bindhani, State Information Commissioner, Odisha attending a workshop here as chief guest. Increasing the penalty and effective implementation of the act is highly essential Ms Bindhani added further.
“Witchcraft is not only prevalent in Odisha or in India but rampant all over the world. The renowned universities are doing research on this and universities in our country may come up for research too”, said Prof. Arnapurna Pandey, Professor in Anthropology, University of California, Santa Cruz.
Witch-hunting is prevalent in Odisha, mostly in the tribal dominated districts Mayurbhanj, Keonjhar, Sundargarh, Ganjam and Rayagada, said a rationalist panel here in a workshop on ‘Witchcraft Prevention and Superstition in Rural Odisha’ today organized by a Civil Society Organisation (CSO) ‘MAMATA’.
A preventive and awareness section need to be added in the school syllabus to prepare the future generation the panel recommended. Witch craft and superstitions are alaraming issues as other social evils and need urgent attention and requisite mass awareness and a campaign at national level told the panelists. A working committee including representatives from CSOs, Academia and rationalist group formed to design a yearlong action agenda for the campaign. Among others, Jagadananda, Mentor, CYSD, Dr. Bijoy Sahoo, Advisor, Odisha Adarsh Vidyalaya Sangathan, MAMATA representatives Dr. Tarulata Dwibedi, Dr. Shree Mishra were present.