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Police stop witch-hunt

Berhampur: Timely intervention by Ganjam police officials rescued members of eight families, who had been confined in a room for allegedly practising witchcraft at Sasanpalli village.

Last week, a village tantric had accused them of practising witchcraft. Police sources said the villagers had sought the help of the tantric, who performed khata vidya on October 9 and identified the eight families for practising witchcraft. A series of deaths at the village led the villagers to believe that some families had been indulging behind the deaths through witchcraft.

Local police got to know about the incident on Saturday. "I rushed to the village and desisted the villagers from doing any unlawful act. I rescued the confined persons from the room. The matter has been settled amicably," said Purushottampur police station inspector-in-charge Bijaya Kumar Sahu.The persons, who had been branded as practising witchcraft by the village committee, were B. Guru Murty Patra, Prakash Sahu, Bhaskar Sahu, B. Pitambar Patra, A. Maguni Patra, Khali Sahu, K. Adikanda Patra and B. Adipada Patra.

However, one of the victims, said: "Our mobile phones were switched off when the tantric performed khata vidya. They then ransacked our houses and beat us. However, two persons managed to flee the village. The villagers locked up the other members till the police rescued them the next day. The village committee took our signatures on stamp paper and ordered us to submit the pattas of our houses and lands. The male members of these six families are now living outside the village after the police rescued them from the room."

Aska sub-divisional police officer Dilip Kumar Das said: "We talked with the village chief, and the situation there is now under control."

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