Keonjhar: Director General of Police (DGP) Dr Rajendra Prasad Sharma on Wednesday inaugurated a memorial for witch-hunt victims at the Keonjhar police headquarters, probably the first such memorial in the State.
The brutal killings related to suspicion of witchcraft are on the rise in the State mostly in tribal pockets despite the enforcement of the Odisha Prevention of Witch-hunting Act, 2013. The first capital punishment was awarded to as many as nine people for murder over suspicion of witch-craft under the Act last year.
In 2017, as many as 99 cases of “witch-hunting” were reported in Odisha, compared to 83 in 2016, and 58 in 2015, sources said. Odisha may have made rapid strides in different spheres, but witchcraft continues to have strong roots in tribal pockets mostly in Keonjhar, Mayubhanj, Rayagada and Gajapati.
The memorial was dedicated to all the innocents who were killed after being branded as witch. The DGP also launched an awareness drive against witch-hunting.
DIG (WR) Kabita Jalan, Keonjhar Collector Ashish Thakare and SP Jay Narayan Pankaj along with a few women, who were branded as witches, were also present. The women too had lunch with the DGP and other top cops.