Hundreds of animals sacrificed in Odisha despite ban

Bhubaneswar, Jan 15 (IANS) Tribal villagers sacrificed hundreds of animals, including roosters, goats, sheep and buffaloes, Tuesday in a village in Odisha as part of an annual religious ceremony despite a government ban on animal slaughter and protests by animal rights activists.

In defiance of the prohibitory order clamped by the administration Monday, residents of over a dozen villages gathered near Khairguda village in Bolangir district, about 300 km from state capital Bhubaneswar, and sacrificed the animals in a forested area.

"The area is surrounded by a forest. Animals were sacrificed near Sulia temple and in nearby areas," an eyewitness told IANS.

However, police claimed villagers performed only a symbolic sacrifice at Khairguda. "Most of the animals were sacrificed in other places near the village," police said.

People sacrifice thousands of animals every year in the district as part of their age-old Sulia yatra or the annual killing festival. They believe that all their suffering is because of divine wrath and the sacrifice of animals will ensure that deities will protect them.

Animal sacrifices did not take place at Khairguda in the past few years because of strong opposition by animal rights activists and the local administration.

To prevent the sacrifices, police had clamped prohibitory orders in the village under Section 144 of the Indian Penal Code, which prohibits assembly of more than four people in an area.

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