Bhubaneswar, Jan 31: Following the directions of the Odisha Human Rights Commission (OHRC), the Department of Women & Child Development (W&CD) in the state has asked the district collectors to submit detailed reports regarding the steps taken to stop the menace of sorcery-related crimes in their respective jurisdictions.
The OHRC, while hearing a plea filed by rights activist Biswapriya Kanungo, had earlier sought the response of the different departments, including the W&CD department, regarding the actions taken to check the rising cases of witch-hunting and related crimes.
The department has asked the collectors to submit details regarding the number of cases reported from different districts relating to witchcraft and the present status of the cases filed between 2018 and 2022.
The steps have been taken to spread awareness about the menace as per the composite action plan formulated by the state Home Department in 2017 and the funds spent for the awareness campaigns in different districts.
The department has also sought details about the funds allotted and received by the district administrations to spread massive public awareness about the evil of witch-hunting.
Speaking to IANS, petitioner Kanungo alleged that the cases are on the rise due to the lack of intent by various stakeholders to work in sync to prevent sorcery-related heinous crimes as per the composite action plan to prevent witch-hunting.
"The administration is treating the sorcery related crimes as a law and order issue only, ignoring the other causes responsible for such crimes. The steps mentioned in the composite action plan are not being implemented properly.
"So, I submitted a petition before the OHRC seeking review of the ‘The Odisha Prevention of Witch Hunting Act’, and proper implementation of the action plan. The OHRC has subsequently sent notices to several state government departments, including the W&CD department,” Kanungo said.