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Witchcraft still haunts adivasis of Diplonga

By Shambhu Boro
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Diplonga Tea Estate (Jamuguri), Sept 21 - The people of Diplonga Tea Estate, one of the largest tea gardens near Sootea under Itakhola Police Outpost in Sonitpur district, have also witnessed several incidents of witchcraft in the area.

The tea estate was once considered as an abode of peaceful, hard working and down to earth adivasi communities like Bodo, Mising, Rabha etc.

Secretary Bishnu Munda and activist Anjali Devi of an NGO Mandal in an interview said that besides the No-16 labour line of Diplonga Tea Estate, the northern belt of Sonitpur district, starting from Mazbat (bordering BTAD and Sonitpur district) to Gohpur area, have till date witnessed many incidents of witch hunting and the consequent harassment upon many innocent people.

�In the last 10 to 15 years, more than 15 people have died in witch-hunting incidents. Though persistent efforts of various organisations, including Mandal and AASAA and ATTSA, social and educational changes have been witnessed among the adivasi people, but witch hunting is still prevalent among the backward section of the communities who are deprived of modern health services and educational awareness programmes,� the duo said.

In another incident of witch hunting at No-16 labour line of Diplonga Tea Estate under Italhola Police Outpost, an innocent woman was harassed recently by the enraged labourers.

Meanwhile, Mintu Bhumij, president of Nadwar unit of ATTSA, said that a month ago, a bej (quack) allegedly announced that only because of practising of witchcraft by a woman in the area, there would be unimaginable harm to all people in the tea garden, which led the educationally backward people to be enraged upon her.

However, after immediate intervention of the ATTSA members, the woman could be saved from the fury of the people. �The most regrettable thing is that though we claim to live in a scientifically aware society, there are still scores of people who believe in superstitions. Sometimes it is seen that the accused who are arrested on charges of killing innocent people in the name of eliminating a �witch� confess before the police with much courage that they are doing a good job by finishing an evil from the society. According to them, such elements are responsible for all the bad things happening in their society,� Mintu Bhumij said.

To wipe out the prevailing superstations among the villagers, the NGO �Mandal� has been organising several awareness programmes across the State, the duo said. One such awareness programme was organised at Diplonga LP School recently in No-16 labour line of Diplonga Tea Estate to create awareness among the people regarding the unethical witch hunting issue, health and hygiene and educational development. The programme was presided over by the Head Master of Kherbari-Gandhi School (Itakhola), Tanka Kurmi and was addressed by manager of the garden, Samarjit Singh, among others.

Highlighting the aim of the NGO, Bishnu Munda said that only because of the lack of health and educational awareness, adivasi people are following an irrational path like witch hunting even in the 21st century, which maligns the image of the greater adivasi society. �Our aim is to make the people aware on the issue and take forward with a scientific approach,� he said.

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Witchcraft still haunts adivasis of Diplonga

Diplonga Tea Estate (Jamuguri), Sept 21 - The people of Diplonga Tea Estate, one of the largest tea gardens near Sootea under Itakhola Police Outpost in Sonitpur district, have also witnessed several incidents of witchcraft in the area.

The tea estate was once considered as an abode of peaceful, hard working and down to earth adivasi communities like Bodo, Mising, Rabha etc.

Secretary Bishnu Munda and activist Anjali Devi of an NGO Mandal in an interview said that besides the No-16 labour line of Diplonga Tea Estate, the northern belt of Sonitpur district, starting from Mazbat (bordering BTAD and Sonitpur district) to Gohpur area, have till date witnessed many incidents of witch hunting and the consequent harassment upon many innocent people.

�In the last 10 to 15 years, more than 15 people have died in witch-hunting incidents. Though persistent efforts of various organisations, including Mandal and AASAA and ATTSA, social and educational changes have been witnessed among the adivasi people, but witch hunting is still prevalent among the backward section of the communities who are deprived of modern health services and educational awareness programmes,� the duo said.

In another incident of witch hunting at No-16 labour line of Diplonga Tea Estate under Italhola Police Outpost, an innocent woman was harassed recently by the enraged labourers.

Meanwhile, Mintu Bhumij, president of Nadwar unit of ATTSA, said that a month ago, a bej (quack) allegedly announced that only because of practising of witchcraft by a woman in the area, there would be unimaginable harm to all people in the tea garden, which led the educationally backward people to be enraged upon her.

However, after immediate intervention of the ATTSA members, the woman could be saved from the fury of the people. �The most regrettable thing is that though we claim to live in a scientifically aware society, there are still scores of people who believe in superstitions. Sometimes it is seen that the accused who are arrested on charges of killing innocent people in the name of eliminating a �witch� confess before the police with much courage that they are doing a good job by finishing an evil from the society. According to them, such elements are responsible for all the bad things happening in their society,� Mintu Bhumij said.

To wipe out the prevailing superstations among the villagers, the NGO �Mandal� has been organising several awareness programmes across the State, the duo said. One such awareness programme was organised at Diplonga LP School recently in No-16 labour line of Diplonga Tea Estate to create awareness among the people regarding the unethical witch hunting issue, health and hygiene and educational development. The programme was presided over by the Head Master of Kherbari-Gandhi School (Itakhola), Tanka Kurmi and was addressed by manager of the garden, Samarjit Singh, among others.

Highlighting the aim of the NGO, Bishnu Munda said that only because of the lack of health and educational awareness, adivasi people are following an irrational path like witch hunting even in the 21st century, which maligns the image of the greater adivasi society. �Our aim is to make the people aware on the issue and take forward with a scientific approach,� he said.

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