Five people, including two young girls, were killed in a suspected ‘tantric ritual’ in Punjab's Moga district on Thursday.
According to police, the ‘occultist’, identified as 80-year-old Harinder Pal Singh Sodhi, 80, allegedly slit the throat of his five victims with a sharp-edged weapon after rendering them unconscious with a poisonous substance. The accused then committed suicide by consuming the same poisonous substance.
The incident took place at Kotla Mehar Singh Wala village under Baghapurna subdivision, 33km from the district headquarters.
The deceased have been identified as Sandeep Kaur, 20, Raj Pal Kaur, 23, Dharminder Singh, 18, Akashdeep Singh, 15, and Sony Singh, 20.
Police said Sodhi was a ‘granthi’ at the Dhaban Basti gurdwara, adding the murders were an outcome of a tantric ritual.
Villagers claimed that Sodhi was involved in occult practices and frequently used to visit Dalit households in the village.
On Wednesday evening, one Bachint Singh alias Chamkaur Singh, reportedly invited him to perform a ritual at his house.
Bachint’s daughter Sandeep and his relatives Raj Pal, Dharminder, Akashdeep and Sony participated in the ritual. Later on Thursday, their bodies were found in the house, while Sodhhi was found dead in the courtyard.
Police said celphos tablets were found near Sodhi's body. They have also found a ‘kapa’ (a sharp weapon) that they suspect was used to kill the victims.
"The probe is on and we are exploring all angles," police said.