16 arrested for thrashing 3 members of a family on suspicion of witchcraft

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Berhampur, Jul 18 (PTI) At least 16 people were arrested in Odisha's Ganjam district on Sunday for allegedly thrashing three members of a family on the suspicion of witchcraft, police said.

Villagers suspected Bimal Nahak of practising witchcraft as at least six persons had died in the past one- and-half month at Chirikipada Sasan in Polasara area, 52km from Berhampur.

On Friday, several villagers allegedly assaulted the 45-year-old man, who claimed innocence. They had also attacked his wife and son when they rushed to his rescue, police said.

After being informed about the incident, police rushed to the spot and rescued the trio from the mob and admitted them to the Polasara community health centre. The man was referred to the MKCG Medical College and Hospital in Berhampur. His condition was stated to be stable, police said.

A case has been registered against 30 villagers, Polsara police station inspector in-charge Jeetendra Mallick said.

'We have raided the village and arrested at least 16 people for their involvement in the attack,' Purushottampur Sub-Divisional Police Officer, Suryamani Pradhan said, adding that a search was on for more suspects.

The incident took place just a day after police and other officials had created awareness against witchcraft, sources said.

It was the second such incident in the district in the last one month. Angry villagers had allegedly beaten to death a 50-year old man at Ramayapalli under Chamakhandi police station limits on June 19 on the suspicion that he practised black magic. PTI COR HMB AAM RG RG

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