NHRC serves notice to Odisha Chief Secretary on Witchcraft and Sorcery, seeks reply within six weeks

Kendrapara, Odisha (India) : The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has issued notice to the Odisha Chief Secretary on the issue of witchcraft and sorcery and sought for reply within six weeks.
The NHRC passed the order today on petition filed by Right activist Radhakanta Tripathy.
The petitioner stated that on June 12 last two persons, Luk Dalabehera and Anak Dalabehera (father and son in relationship) were beaten to death in Gajapati district of Odisha under suspicion of Sorcery.
The ghastly incident,he said has occurred in spite of Odisha Prevention of Witch Hunting Act, 2013
is existing to deal with the social evil.
The complainant has alleged that the act is not being implemented sincerely as a result innocent people are being subjected to torture and harassment.
According to the Dalabehera family, recently, a minor boy died in the village and a group of villagers suspected that the minor boy allegedly died due to the practice of black magic by the father and son.
The villagers held a meeting before reaching the Dalabehera house. They took Luk and Anak to a nearby forest and had beaten them mercilessly. While Luk died on the spot, Anak managed to escape and returned home but only to breathe his last.
Mr.Tripathy said identification, prosecution and systematic elimination of the practice of witchcraft
is the need of the hour but it is not being done in the state.
Earlier, in a case of murders on suspicion of witch craft, the Collector –cum- the District Magistrate
of Gajapati had informed the Commission about the steps being taken to curb the practice.
But no such active result has been found from the District and murders and attacks continues.
In the past the NHRC had directed the state Home Secretary to ensure submission of appropriate half-yearly reports to the Commission regarding the effective and timely implementation of the action plan indicating the reported witch-hunting incidents in the State.
While disposing of a case related to witch craft and sorcery, the NHRC had sought compiled comprehensive reports from the Chief Secretary and DGP, Odisha with a compilation of reports
from all the thirty District Collectors of the state for the prevention of sorcery and witch-hunting
and payment of compensation to the victims of the social evil.
As on date neither the Act related to the evil practice nor the orders of the NHRC has been
compiled by the Government of Odisha, Mr.Tripathy alleged.

This is a classic case of failure of the State government mechanism in acting over the issue of
Witch Craft and Sorcery posing a serious question of human rights of people living in the state,the petitioner said.
He requested the NHRC to direct the DGP and the Chief Secretary and produce the details of deaths/attacks due to Sorcery and witchcraft in the State, total amount of compensation paid to
victim family members and l number of cases where provision of Law related to Witchcraft has
not been inserted by the Police.
The Apex rights body said in case, the report is not received within the stipulated time, the Commission would initiate coercive process u/s 13 of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993,
calling for a personal appearance of the authority concern for submission of the report.

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