Suspected human sacrifice: Couple among 3 held in Kerala

PTI, Oct 11, 2022, 3:43 PM IST

Two women were allegedly sacrificed as part of black magic to bring prosperity to a village of Pathanamthitta district of Kerala and three people, including a couple, suspected to be involved in the crime, were taken into custody, police said here on Tuesday.

The two women, who had earned their daily bread selling lottery tickets on the streets here, were allegedly sacrificed by the accused to settle their financial issues and bring prosperity in life, police said.

Expressing shock over the murders, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said only those who are sick in the head could commit such crimes.

Such blackmagic and witchcraft rituals could only be seen as a challege to civilised society, he said in a statement.

According to the police, the victims, said to be in their near 50s, were natives of Kadavanthara here and Kalady nearby. The women had gone missing in September and June this year and the eventual probe led to the story of human sacrifice, they said.

The body parts of the victims were cut into pieces before being buried in two locations at Elanthoor village in Thiruvalla in Pathanamthitta, they said quoting the confession by the accused.

The arrested persons were identified as Bhagaval Singh, reportedly a local massage therapist, his wife Laila, both natives of Thiruvalla; and Rasheed alias Muhammand Shafi, a Perumbavoor native, who was suspected to have lured and brought the now-deceased women to the house of the couple where the sacrifice was said to have been done.

”During our investigation regarding the missing woman from Kadavanthara, we came to know that she was killed in that couple’s house in Thiruvalla and her body was buried after being cut into pieces there. It was a human sacrifice for the financial benefit of that couple,” Kochi City Police Commissioner Nagaraju Chakilam told PTI.

On further interrogation, it was also found that this was not the lone case but another woman was also allegedly sacrificed” similarly in the same house in June.

”It was also at the same house…by the same couple…and the woman was brought by the same person. The third person had not only played an agent role (in both these cases) but was also instrumental in getting this done. He convinced the couple that this should be done,” he said adding that the bodies were not in one shape as they had been made into pieces and buried.

Further details can be divulged after exhumation and inquest, said IG (south zone) P Prakash.

”Prima facie, it was a case of murder for financial gains through black magic and human sacrifice. The police will look into all aspects and details,” he added. Both the women were reportedly lured by Rasheed under the pretext of acting in porn films and promising to pay them a hefty amount as remuneration. But police were yet to confirm this.

When contacted, a senior police officer said how the victims were brought to the Singh’s village house by Rasheed was another story.

”This case has several aspects and dimensions to be probed. How they were brought to the crime scene has a slight immoral angle,” he told PTI without going into any further details. A police team later brought the accused to the suspected crime scene at Elanthoor with the faces covered to collect evidence.

Steps were also on to exhume the bodies of the women at the locations where their alleged body parts were buried as per the confession of the accused.

Meanwhile, Vijayan said the police have made it clear that the murders were done as part of superstition. ”Vigilant investigation of a missing case by the police has led to the unfolding of the twin murder,” he said adding that abducting and killing people for wealth and superstitious beliefs is a crime that is beyond imagination in a State like Kerala. Stating that police would take stringent measures against the guilty, the Chief Minister also urged everyone in society to come forward to identify such evil practices and bring them to public notice.

Leader of Opposition in the State Assembly V D Satheesan said the latest incidents would force all people, who were proud to be part of a civilized society, to hang their heads in shame. ”Another life would have been saved had there been a serious investigation by the police into the first missing complaint itself. A detailed investigation needs to be conducted to find out whether more murders have taken place in the State on account of witchcraft,” he added.

Without directly mentioning media reports that Singh, one of the accused, was a local activist of the ruling CPI (M), Satheesan said it was also significant that one of the killers was an active worker of a political party that claims to be a progressive. ”Therefore, an honest and fair investigation should be ensured without any external interference,” the Congress leader added. BJP State chief K Surendran alleged that one of the killers was a CPI (M) activist and there was also the intervention of radical religious groups in the crime.

The incident stands as a question mark in front of the political, administrative and police leadership of Kerala who react to any minor incident happening in any part of the country, he said.

”The accused was said to have held significant posts in the Marxist party in the area. As per the local information, he is currently holding the charge of the party’s karshaka sangham. You can also see his Facebook posts praising Chief Minister Vijayan and Health Minister Veena George during their poll victories,” he further charged.

A fair investigation into the incident should be conducted, the leader added.

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