Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Witchhunting survivor Chutni Mahato resolves to eradicate harassment of women over witchcraft slur

Seraikela: For the second day in succession, Seraikela basked in Padma Shri glory as Chutni Mahato (63) of Birbans village under Gamharia block of Seraikela Kharsawan district received the highest Civilian Award from President Ram Nath Kovind on Tuesday.

Chutni who is known to launch struggle against witch hunting and creates awareness against witch practices  not only in the district but across the state received the award at Rashtrapati Bhawan.

Chutni Devi has asked the society to continue the struggle for eradication of the witch-hunting practice prevalent among rural pockets of the state.

In the year 1979, Chutni Devi was married to Late Dhananjay Mahato, resident of Mahataindih village under Gamharia block. She had three sons and a daughter. Everything went well for about 12 years of marriage. The period of struggle started for Chutni Mahto from the year 1991 when own relatives accused her of being a witch.

She faced physical and mental torture at home itself.  And even in the village, he was seen with hatred. In such a situation, it became difficult for Chutni Devi to leave the house. And had to stay hungry and thirsty for many days. Talking about her pain at that time, Chutni says that she was defeated by her loved ones.

After escaping from the torture of being labelled a witch, Chutni came to Birbans and started a new life with her children in a hut. Despite being illiterate himself, she took the initiative to educate her children.

At the same time, Chutni, who had suffered harassment on the charge of witch herself, took a pledge to get rid of the stigmatized life of the women who were harassed on the pretext of practicing witchcraft.

She joined the Free Legal Aid Committee (Flac), an organization working against the practice of witchcraft, started working to give respect to the suffering women in the society and show the way. And since then till today, she has managed to provided opportunities to 127 women live a dignified life in the society while liberating them from harassment of witchcraft slur.

“I am deeply grateful to the Government of India for the Padma Shri award. My fight against witch malpractices will continue till my last breath. To eradicate this evil practice, strict laws should be made at the ground level and strictly followed,” said Chutni Mahato.

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