Man sacrificed in Odisha to ‘prevent COVID-19’

Crime committed by priest in a temple in Cuttack district

By Ashis Senapati
Published: Thursday 28 May 2020

The 50-year-old victim was decapitated by the priest at an altar inside the temple. Photo: pxfuel.comA man was allegedly sacrificed by a temple priest in Odisha’s Cuttack district on the night of May 27, 2020, “to keep at bay” the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in India.

Sansari Ojha, 70, the priest of Maa Bramhanidei temple at Bandhahuda village, decapitated the man at the altar of the temple. The victim, Saroj Pradhan (50), used to stay for the night in the temple. After committing the heinous crime, Ojha went to the nearby police station at Narasinghpur to surrender.

The priest claimed he was divinely ordained by the deity a few days back in his dream to perform human sacrifice to end COVID-19.

Acting on the confessional statement of the accused, the police opened the priest’s restroom and recovered the beheaded body.

The weapon used in the beheading, lying near the body, was also seized. The police are investigating the case, Alok Ranjan Roy, the sub-divisional police officer of Athagarh, said.

The incident has sent shock waves throughout Odisha.

The colonial period

“This horrid practice was prevalent among some sections of the state’s population in the past and the British government stopped human sacrifice after enforcing laws strictly,” Basudev Das, a noted researcher and member of Odisha Sahitya Academy, said.

Soon after the discovery of the practice, the British government as well as many philanthropists became keen to eradicate it. In l842, Lieutenant Macpherson had taken up measures for the suppression of human sacrifice, said Das.

In 1870, an Act was promulgated to prevent human sacrifice in India.

This Act empowered all governments and states to suppress the practice and outlined measures to be taken such as police enforcement, punishment for breach of laws and placement of neglected children.

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