**Rayagada**: The spectre of death and bloodshed in the name of sorcery and witchcraft simply refuses to leave Odisha. In a gruesome incident, three members of a tribal family were hacked and then burnt on suspicion of practising sorcery by the villagers in Rayagada district.
The shocking incident happened at Puttasing Kiting village under Gunupur Tehsil in the tribal-dominated district.
The deceased have been identified as Ashim Sabat (45), his wife and their minor daughter.
Preliminary investigation suggested that sorcery might be the cause behind the brutal murders.
Though the incident, in all probability, happened on September 9 night, it came to light only on Friday after the deceased’ another minor daughter revealed the entire tale before police.
Police said on September 9 a group of villagers barged into the homes of Asina around midnight and started assaulting them. Later, they dragged the three to a nearby forest. Their another teenaged daughter, who saved herself by hiding in her home told the police how the villagers dragged her parents and killed them.
The villagers had brutally assaulted the three and then burnt their bodies in a nearby forest, police said by adding at least 8 persons have been so far arrested.
Speaking on the incident, Rayagada SP K Siva Subramani said a special police has been formed headed by a DSP who had gone to the spot to investigate the matter.
“Some villagers had forcefully taken the trio to a nearby forest and beaten them up before burning the trio in order to hush up the evidence. One of their minor daughters, who had managed to save her life has told about the incident in detail,” the SP explained.
A scientific team left for the spot on Saturday morning to be part of the investigation process in order to extract some vital clues. They have collected samples of the ashes and bones for forensic examination.
Meanwhile, the police have been questioning the villagers suspecting some more persons might have been involved in the crime. Around eight persons have already been arrested in this regard.
“The family was practising sorcery. They had to die or else the villagers would have suffered more. So we burnt them,”said an accused.
Notably, around 541 persons have been killed in the last 14 years for practicing sorcery.
Mostly such superstitious practices are prevalent in the tribal-dominated districts like Koraput, Sundargarh, Mayurbhanj, Keonjhar and Ganjam.