Ranpur (Puri) — Ranpur is a town of dazed people. Three children of the town were killed in a temple, three km. away, while they sang, danced and made merry on the Sankranti day, last Saturday.
Both the police and the shocked people of this town believe that it was the handiwork of Tantriks who did it to appease the goddess, Maninag (Durga).
Blood stains on the stone walls of the small temple (six feet by seven feet) indicate that the heads of the three children were dashed against them till light left their eyes. The police have also recovered two sharp-edged stones (one kg. each) which were covered with blood indicating that they were hit with the stones as well. That is a case of human sacrifice is apparent from the fact that there are blood stains at the foot of the goddess idol. The idol is encased in a semicircular mound of concrete and nobody has seen the idol. (If any, for it is supposed to be hidden inside). Apparently, the dying children were turned upside down to let the blood drip from their heads to the foot of the idol.
The police said that they were confident of achieving a breakthrough. But they do not have a single clue. They have taken finger prints from the walls of the temple. But Tantriks and exorcists are not the kinds of people whose finger prints would be easily available in the police files.
Relative of the victims said that the police should have launched a manhunt and rounded up all Tantriks living in the hills of the Puri district soon after the incident came to light, four days back. This was not done. The police told his correspondent on Tuesday that they have heard of some Tantriks living in a neighboring village and had planned to summon them for interrogation.
Relatives of the victims also suspect that Laxmidhar Maharana, the person who first informed them of the incident, may have been involved in the gruesome murder. Maharana is in the gambling trade and his business has been bad of late. The relatives said that Maharana might have wanted to propitiate the goddess and seek her blessings for prosperity.
On interrogation, Maharana told the police that he saw the bodies of the three children on the morning of June 16, Sunday, when he had. Gone to The temple in ‘the pursuance of a vow he had taken. Relatives of the victims said that Maharana is not a regular devotee and does not usually go to that temple. They ask why he had to go in the early hours of Sunday.
The temple is located in a solitary place on a steep hillock. Villagers rarely go to this temple as there is no path to climb up to the temple, three km. from Ranpur. There is another Maninag temple in the town and this is the one which villagers frequent.
At any rate, no villager would ever dare to climb up hillock which looks down a steep valley after dusk, as the three children seem to have done. Sanathan Bari, the father of one of the children, said that they might have been lured with the promise of a feast and taken up the hillock.
The police also seem to believe this theory, as they say it is not possible to forcibly take three healthy children out of a fair in which hundreds of people were involved in fun and frolic on the Sankrant day. The police feel that more than three persons might have been involved in the killing. The victims are Radhamohan Barik, Bhikari Barik and Akhoya Bajik aged 14, 4 and 12, respectively. All of them belonged to the poor barber community in the village. They were related and lived in the same barber’s colony.
After the killing, the bodies were thrown into the valley. The postmortem report shows that there were no injuries in any part of the head except the back. All three children had similar injuries.
Signs of puja having been performed were seen in the temple when the bodies were recovered on Sunday morning. Rice, mango leaves and pieces of new cloth were found there. People of the town and surrounding villages have always avoided going to this temple. There is a belief that whosoever breaks open the concrete mound that hides the idol of the goddess in the temple will die an instant death when the goddess is revealed and casts an eye on him.
The elderly in the village say that they have heard stories of human sacrifices being carried out on the temple in the days of yore but they have not witnessed any such ceremony. It appears that whosoever built the temple on the hillock it is not clear when it as built did not lay a path to reach the top.
The people of Ranpur (population 5000) who had engaged British soldiers in an armed uprising and even killed the political agent are today, a frightened lot. Dark thoughts including the possibility of Tantriks repeating the gruesome event and the goddess releasing her wrath on them are discussed and circulated around.
Article extracted from this publication >> July 5, 1985