On the day Maharashtra legislature passed the much-awaited anti-superstition bill, Thane district police arrested six men for murdering a 50-year-old woman in a ritual human sacrifice.
District superintendent of police Anil Kumbhare on Saturday said the accused were arrested on Friday night. The victim, whose headless body was found last month, has been identified as Kalawati Ramasrey Gupta, a resident of Santacruz in Mumbai.
According to police, Kalawati's son, who lived in Uttar Pradesh, kept unwell, and somebody advised her to meet Sarvajit Ramdeo Kahar (57), a godman.
Ramdhani Kripashankar Yadav (33), who lived in the same area, took her to Kahar's house in the Airport colony in Santacruz in his autorickshaw on a few occasions.
Yadav's wife too kept unwell, while his brother Gulab Yadav (27) had a strained relationship with his wife. Both the brothers were advised by Kahar to carry out a human sacrifice, which, he said, would solve their problems.
The brothers allegedly decided to kill Kalawati.
On November 16, 2013, they took her to Gulab Yadav's house in Nalla Sopara, saying that she was to perform some rituals which would cure her son.
During the ritual she was beheaded. Kahar's relative Satyanarayan alias Pardeshi Rambali Gound (48), his son Pankaj (22) and Yadav's friend Shyamsunder Jawahar Gupta (42) abetted the murder, according to the police.
The accused put the body in a gunny sack and dumped it by the roadside. The severed head was thrown off the Wasada bridge on Mumbai-Ahmedabad road.
The anti-superstition bill, championed by the slain rationalist Dr Narendra Dabholkar, was passed by the state assembly on Friday.