Five arrested for ‘human sacrifice’ of woman at temple

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Indian police have arrested five men accused of conducting a human sacrifice, nearly four years after the discovery of a woman’s headless body at a Hindu temple left officers baffled, reported AFP.

Shanti Shaw, 64, was killed and decapitated with a machete in 2019 after visiting the temple in Guwahati, a city in India’s remote north-east.

Police made no progress in the case until Shaw’s body was finally identified in January, sparking a renewed investigation that tracked down several culprits, with others still at large.

“The five planned the killing of the woman,” the Guwahati police commissioner, Diganta Barah, said on Tuesday. “A total of 12 people took part.”

Barah said the alleged ringleader, Pradeep Pathak, 52, had orchestrated the killing as part of a religious rite to mark the anniversary of his brother’s death, reads the report.

“The accused apparently believed that the sacrifice would appease the soul of the deceased,” he added.

Pathak and four others were taken into custody between 25 March and 1 April, with police still hunting for their remaining seven accomplices.

India’s National Crime Records Bureau lodged 103 cases of human sacrifice in the country between 2014 and 2021. Ritual killings are usually conducted to appease deities and are more common in tribal and remote areas, where belief in witchcraft and the occult is widespread.

Last year, two men were arrested for allegedly killing a six-year-old boy in the capital, New Delhi. The culprits, both construction workers, told police they murdered the child as an offering to the Hindu god Shiva to get rich. (AFP)

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