The National Human Rights Commission has directed the Odisha Chief Secretary and the Director General of Police to inform about steps being taken to create awareness of witchcraft accusations and violence and compensation for the victims.
The commission issued the direction on a petition by human rights lawyer Radhakant Tripathy, who had moved the NHRC drawing its attention to witchcraft-related violence and its impact on the lives of people in Odisha.
Mr. Tripathy had demanded that State agencies expedite probe and trial of offences under the Prevention of Witch Hunting Act, 2013 to ensure protection of basic human rights of gullible victims.
“The State government should come up with more innovative programmes to spread awareness against blind belief and educate people about the absurd concept of evil spirit and witchcraft,” he had submitted.
Hearing the matter, the NHRC directed the Odisha Chief Secretary and the police chief to submit a report on steps taken to conduct the awareness programmes in all villages and the compensation provided to the victims in next 15 weeks.
Mr. Tripathy pointed out that Odisha had recorded many violent attacks on suspicion of practice of sorcery and witchcraft, especially against the women.
The Additional Director General of Police (Human Rights Protection Cell) of Odisha had earlier directed superintendents of police of Ganjam, Gajapati, Mayurbhanj, Keonjhar, Sundargarh, Rayagada and Malkangiri to take appropriate action to end the menace.