Suspected of witchcraft, woman, her 4 kids killed in Odisha; 6 accused arrested
Police in tribal-dominated district of Sundargarh on Monday arrested six people on charges of brutally killing a woman and her four children on grounds that she was a “witch” who practised “black magic”.
Sushant Das, a police inspector in Koida police station of Indupur village said the main accused Budhram Munda called himself a “witch doctor”. The other accused include local villager Debra Munda and his four brothers-in-law.
They allegedly murdered a tribal woman, Mangri Munda, and her two sons and two daughters — aged one, four, seven and 12 — and dumped their bodies in a well close to their house.
According to the police, on the night of January 25, Budhram Munda and the five other accused went to the house of driver Sudam Munda while he was not at home.
“Budhram, who practises witchcraft, suspected that Mangri, Sudam’s wife, was casting “spells” on a Debra Munda’s family. This, he thought, was leading to a long-running sickness in the family that claimed the lives of Debra Munda’s two daughters. Budhram told Debra that Mangri and her children were witches who were responsible for the illnesses,” Das said.
Officials said Debra Munda and the other accused forced their way into Sudam Munda’s house, where they killed Mangri and her children with a crowbar. After killing them, the accused threw their bodies into a nearby well. Police said the accused have confessed to the murders.
Killings related to suspicion of witchcraft are on the rise in the state despite the promulgation of the Odisha Prevention of Witch-hunting Act, 2013.
In 2017, 99 cases of “witch-hunting” were reported in the state, compared to 83 in 2016, and 58 in 2015. The act defines witch-hunting as any act of omission, commission or conduct that identifies, accuses or defames a woman as a witch, or harasses, harms or injures the woman or her property in any way. The act also bars the practise of “witchcraft”.