30,000 birds and animals sacrificed despite ban

Despite the prohibition of the district administration, more than 30,000 animals and birds were sacrificed during Sulia Yatra at Nuakhala in Kumuria village under Balangir’s Tusura police station limits on Tuesday. Devotees and supporters of the tribal community sacrificed the animals, citing the practice to be part of their long-standing tradition.

Large number of police personnel and administrative officials were present at the spot but could not prevent the gory ritual, remaining mute spectators as buffalos, hens and goats in large numbers were butchered in Badkhala and Sankhala near Khairguda village, in violation of the prohibition order of the district administration.

The ritual struck an incongruous note in an otherwise picturesque setting of the Sulia hillock, surrounded by lush, serene forests, about 30 km from Balangir headquarter. The remote villages of Khairguda and Kumuria, located just bellow the hillock, have attracted media spotlight over the past few years due to the large number of animals sacrificed every year, in gross violation of the order of Odisha high court.

“We have proclaimed 144 Cr PC at Badkhala, Sanakhala and Nuakhala and noticed 22 priests u/s 107 Cr PC to prevent animal sacrifice. But we could not stop animal sacrifice this year,” a senior officer of Balangir district administration said. However, he assured to take stringent action against those who indulged in the activities violating the court direction.

The tribal people in the region have been protesting the court order, claiming the practice of animal sacrifice to be a 500-year-old tradition of the Kandha people, who believe animal sacrifice is associated with their religious faith. They appease their presiding deity by offering blood of the animals and birds on the second Tuesday of ‘Pousa’ month every year. “You cannot stop this by using force on us. We have special customs and tradition. Violation of religious tradition by using force is totally unconstitutional,” said general secretary of Western Odisha Tribal Welfare Association Nirajan Bishi.

Orissa high court had directed the district administration to prevent animal sacrifice during Sulia Yatra three years ago. The high court passed the interim order, acting on the petition of Sulia Samskar Manch, a Balangir-based NGO, protesting the practice of animal sacrifice.

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