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Witch hunt killings worry Church activists
Christians in India are also involved in the disturbing murders, they say
- Ajay Kumar Singh, Bhubaneswar
- February 3, 2011
The latest case involved the killing of a brother and sister yesterday in the stateâ€™s Keonjhar district.
Kanda Hembram said he killed Sombari Chatar and her brother Utchaba Purthy because members of his family were suffering from a fever brought about by the dead womanâ€™s husband.
â€śI cannot understand this blind belief. It is so entrenched. People willingly kill their own parents, siblings and other relatives,â€ť said Divine Word Father John Baptist, who works in the area.
A Christian woman was last year hacked to death after being accused of witchcraft, he said.
Witch hunts are carried out mostly in rural and tribal areas. A person is punished, even killed, for bringing bad luck or illness to a village or family.
It is also considered as a way of grabbing land, settling scores or even punishing a woman for turning down sexual advances.
Father Manoj Nayak, who assists the social action arm of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar archdiocese, voiced his concerns.
â€śThis is really worrying. We are at a loss as this belief is also held within the Christian community,â€ť he said.
Father Nichalaus Barla, a tribal activist in Sundergarh district where a large number of witchcraft cases are reported, believes poverty is one major cause.
â€śWhen resources are less, people tend to find an excuse to do away with people who stand in their way,â€ť he said.
According to some estimates, 150-200 women were accused of witchcraft and killed in India last year. Some 2,500 women have been murdered in witch hunts over the last15 years.
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