A puja to help bring two children back to good health and solve their parents’ marital problems, ended in the death of the minors.
The incident took place 5km from the national capital, Karheda area of Ghaziabad. The two children, aged two and three, died of severe burn injuries when their maternal uncle pushed their heads into the puja fire to “ward off evil spirits”.
The puja had been organised by a witch doctor engaged by the boys’ maternal uncle and grandfather. The children’s mother was present at the puja.
The bodies of the two boys, Mukul and Harsh Chauhan were recovered by the police on Monday. The boys’ maternal uncle Ishwar Chauhan and grandfather Chaman Chauhan and a local tantrik Sanjay Pandit have been arrested.
Ishwar told police that the children had not been keeping well for the past few months and that the boys’ parents were having a marital dispute. The boys’ mother, Kamlesh Chauhan, 30, had been living at her parents’ home in Karheda, for about a year now.
“The children and their parents were under the influence of evil spirits and the tantrik asked us to perform a puja. The rituals had been going on for the past three days. On Friday, a chicken was purchased and beheaded during the puja,” Ishwar Chauhan said.
While the three accused were performing the puja on Sunday, Ishwar Chauhan caught hold of the two boys by their necks and pushed their heads into the fire.
“Their uncle drew their heads close to the fire. This went on for two hours after which they did not respond,” said Sanjay Pandit, the tantrik who performed the puja.
“The children died due to burn injuries and suffocation,” senior superintendent of police (SSP) Raghubir Lal said.
On Monday morning, unaware of the fact that the two boys had died, the three accused took the bodies to Kalka temple in Delhi and later to a mosque in Deoband in Saharanpur district.
Police arrived at the spot after they received information of the incident from a neighbour. The SSP said that a case under section 304 of IPC (murder) had been registered at Sahibabad police station. “We have arrested the three prime accused for the crime and the victims’ mother was hospitalised due to the shock after the incident,” SSP added.