Published: 09th March 2021
Over 50 kids branded with hot iron in Odisha's Gajapati village to 'cure' stomach ailments
The incident came to light after two kids were meted out the horrific treatment by a quack in Akhadasahi village of the panchayat on Sunday
Superstition continues to rule the lives of rural populace in Gajapati district as over 50 kids have suffered burn injuries after being branded with hot iron in Purunapani panchayat under R Udayagiri block.
The incident came to light after two kids were meted out the horrific treatment by a quack in Akhadasahi village of the panchayat on Sunday. These 50 children, mostly girls, are aged between one and two years.
Though the district administration made several attempts to refrain people from falling victim to superstitious beliefs, the villagers of Purunapani continue to take their kids to quacks or traditional healers to cure them of ailments.
Sources said the ritual of branding kids with hot iron commences from the Makar Sankranti festival. Family members take their children to quacks who brand them with hot iron to cure their stomach and other ailments. Since it's not possible to brand all the kids on the auspicious occasion, the practice continues till several days. In case of Purunapani panchayat, the barbaric practice has been continuing since more than one and a half months.
In Akhadasahi village, the children were marked with red hot iron while their parents consoled them with candies.
Villagers said branding is a traditional healing practice which is intrinsic to their culture. By branding, a child is protected from evil eyes. One of the parents said, "It is not possible on our part to visit hospitals that are situated at faraway places. In such a situation, we have to depend on our traditional process of cure and our infants have to bear the pain."
While the inhuman practice continues in the panchayat, the local administration has no scent of it. R Udayagiri sarpanch Sanjukta Pujari said it is a common practice in the area and she too received the branding during her childhood. However, she opposed the practice and described it as an inhuman act."We made several appeals to people not to believe in superstitions but in vain. The need of the hour is spreading awareness about the social evil," Sanjukta added.
While no official was available for comment, block office sources said the matter has been taken up with the district child protection office. Investigation will be carried out to identify the persons involved in branding these infants and legal action initiated against them.