Three men of Ganjam district who allegedly forced five villagers, including two girls, to eat human excreta suspecting them to be practicing witchcraft, were arrested Wednesday.
On Monday, a kangaroo court in Olapur village under Ramchandrapur gram panchayat of Chikti block in the district had ordered shaving of the heads of eight villagers, accusing them of practising witchcraft. Five of them were beaten up and forced to eat human excreta.
The victims are Mohan Sahu (70), Subash Behera (23), Keuta Behera (28), Amar Behera (18), Kartik Behera (35), Dandapani Behera (48), Jhunu Behera (19) and Sushma Behera (20).
The police arrested Ramchandra Behera, Prashant Nayak and Tareni Nayak under sections 341, 294, 325, 342, 354, 355, 307, 506 and 34 of the IPC, said ASP of Ganjam, Sashi Bhusan Satapathy.
Last week, a villager blamed the deaths of a few locals on witchcraft and accused the eight villagers. The villagers then had a meeting on January 18. The next morning the victims were called out of their homes and then forced to eat excreta. One of the victims managed to escape and reported the incident to the police while two others fled the village.
In December 2013, the state passed the Orissa Prevention of Witchhunting Act that makes every offence under the Act cognizable and non-bailable. According to the Act, a person found guilty would have to serve at least three years of jail term, which can extend to seven years with fine not less than Rs 10,000.