The Mamata organised a workshop on “Witchcraft Prevention and Superstition in Rural Odisha” here on Tuesday with an aim to plan collective action needed to fight against the blind belief.
State Information Commissioner Sashiprava Bindhani attending as chief guest said the Odisha Prevention of Witch-hunting Act, 2013 is not being effectively implemented, for which the instigators of such practices are not coming under the purview of law. She said only legislation is not enough to fight the evil practices without the required education in schools and family in order to change the mindset and larger social environment. Large-scale awareness is needed in this regard, Bindhani added.
University of California, Santa Cruz Professor of Social Anthropology Prof Annapurna Pandey said superstition is a belief system which has been imperialised on the face of rational scientific knowledge.
Looking from the anthropological point of view, she said, “In witchcraft, we need to see who are accused, why they are accused and, most importantly, who are accusers” and stated that this is very much focused on the conflict between tradition and modern system.
‘Baigyanika Charcha’ editor Dr Debendra Sutar said the incidences of witch-hunting-related crimes are on the rise. During last 10 year, as many as 533 deaths occurred due to this in the country out of which 254 were male, 195 female and 84 children.
The causes for such death are superstition, blind belief, health issues, land dispute, political revenge, he observed.
He also pointed out that mostly ignorant common people from backward classes are victims of such evil practices. They have been suffering in many ways, including physical and mental, and economic loss due to superstitions. It is also observed that many of the evil practices are followed due to economic and sexual exploitation, he added. Former PIB Officer and communicator Sudhanshu Sekhar Dhada, who has 36 years of experience of investigating witchcraft cases, said more than 15 subjects are associated with witchcraft and more than 12 sense organs work for rationalism. Persons who believe in such evil practices have defective sensory perceptions, he said.
Mamata joint secretary Dr Shree Mishra, Odisha Adarsh Vidyalaya Sangathan Advisor Dr Bijoy Sahoo, Dr Tarulata Dwivedy, CYSD mentor and co-founder Jagadananda, Aaina’s Sneha Mishra and Dr Jyotsna Mohapatra also spoke on the occasion.