Suspected ‘human sacrifice’ rocks Maharashtra village

March 8th, 2008 - 8:56 pm ICT by admin  

Nagpur, March 8 (IANS) A case of suspected human sacrifice has rocked a village in Maharashtra’s Amravati district after a woman’s charred body was found in a house. The body had severe head injuries and there were signs of religious rituals having been performed, the police said Saturday. Sunita Mahajan, 28, was found dead in Rajendra Andhale’s house in Papal village Thursday, the police said, adding that it still wasn’t clear whether it was a case of plain murder or human sacrifice too, as many villagers suspect.

Signs of some religious ritual having been performed were found in the room, including a box wrapped in saffron cloth containing turmeric powder, vermilion, camphor cubes and marigold flowers. This led villagers to believe that Sunita was “sacrificed” to propitiate a deity, police inspector A.P. Avachar told IANS.

Andhale’s wife Manisha has been arrested on the charge of murdering Sunita. The victim has been described as a mentally challenged farm labourer.

Called “a weird and arrogant woman” by villagers, Manisha was found hiding in the bushes near her home with bloodstains on her sari.

“Manisha told us that she rushed to the room on hearing a thud and found Sunita lying half-conscious with blood oozing from her forehead,” Avachar said.

“She said she got the blood stains on her sari while helping Sunita and fled the scene in panic.”

“Manisha has three children and the family owns four acres of agricultural land and a grocery shop. These facts make me discount the ‘human sacrifice’ theory as the superstitious are known to do it either for a son or for wealth,” the officer said.

Villagers however say Manisha was paranoid about mastering black magic and was often engrossed in weird rituals.

The police said they were also talking to Manisha’s 11-year old daughter Rupali who reportedly told villagers that she fetched Sunita, on her mother’s instructions, from the village temple where people had congregated for the Shivratri festival Thursday.

“My mother worshipped Sunita by applying vermilion on her forehead and offering her a coconut, bangles and anklets,” Rupali was quoted as telling the villagers.

Manisha’s husband was at Nandgaon Khandeshwar, the sub-district headquarters about 40 km from Papal, when the gruesome incident took place, Avachar said.

The post mortem examination has revealed that she was hit with a sharp weapon on her forehead and with a heavy, blunt object on the back of her head and then set on fire, Avachar said.

“A kerosene oil can, a mortar and pestle were also recovered from the room in which Sunita’s body was found,” he added.

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