Murder reflects tribal's faith in witchcraft

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Baripada, Nov 8 (UNI) The grisly murder of three suspected ''witches'' in remote tribal villages in Mayurbhanj district during last one week reflects the tribals' faith in witchcraft.

The latest incident was reported on November six from the remote Jhanurisahi village in Bijatala block. As per reports two suspected witches were tied to a telephone pole, doused in kerosine and burnt alive.

The alleged killer, Gobardhan Mandal(28), a ward member of Jhanurisahi, in his confession before the police said the two suspected witches--Sombari Munda and Singo Hembrom--were 'causing harm' to his 7-year-old daughter Barsha through sorcery.

Barsha, who was ailing for sometime, died on Saturday night and was creamted the next day.

The tribals believe that women possessing 'malevolent' eyes could bring ruin to people by their 'baleful influences' or sorcery.

Such superstitions led Gobardhan to believe that the two suspected witches were responsible for his daughter's death.

The Inspector-In-Charge of the Gorumahisani police station visited the spot,arrested him for the double murder and forwarded him to a local court at Rairangpur.

On November 4 a suspected witch Poma Hembrom, wife of Kunar Hembrom of Rangamatia village under Rairangpur Rural police station limits, was injured with a sharp weapon by her sister-in-law- Acchmani Hembrom.

She later surrendered before the police with the weapon, police said.

Acchmani told the police that since Poma was trying to 'harm' her daughter through witchcraft she had killed her.

With these two incidents,the total number of murders of suspected witches in Mayurbhanj district this year had gone up to ten.

Society for Research and Development of Tribal Culture(SRDTC) Secretary Gurva Soren said the Santals distinguish between beneficent and maleficent magic.

Magic intended to produce evil is known as black magic, in contrast to the socially and psychologically beneficent white magic.

Tribal Women's Self-Help Group president Somali Murmur said a massive awareness campaign could help eradicate the superstitious beliefs still prevailing among the tribals.

Such awareness campaigns could alone save the women who are targeted as witches or sorcerers and unnecessarily punished or even lynched, Ms Murmur added.


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