Seven people have been arrested in Nalasopara, 50 km from Mumbai, after a five-year-old boy and a three-year-old girl were throttled and trampled to death during a superstitious ritual on Friday.
The ritual was conducted by the victims’ aunt, Dolly Jaiswal, 23, as their parents and other relatives watched. Parents Vishal, 35, and Anita Jaiswal, 25; maternal grandparents Sachalal, 65, and Sumita, 60; paternal uncles Satish, 25, and Dinesh, 22, and Satish’s wife Dolly have been arrested.
The ritual began on Wednesday, said assistant police inspector Sanjay Dhumal.
“Dolly, who claimed to have supernatural powers, told the family that her niece and nephew — Om and Ritika Jaiswal — and her sister-in-law Renu, who could not conceive, were possessed by evil spirits.” Dolly began by burning camphor tablets on Renu’s head to tonsure her.
Two days later, on Friday, an auspicious day in the Hindu calendar, Dolly said she would exorcise the children. As the family watched, she beat them, stamped on their chests and throttled them.
“When Dolly realised the children were dead, she told their father to take them to a witch doctor to ‘revive them from their stupor’,” said Dhumal. Vishal took the children to a nearby hospital, where they were declared dead on admission.
Though Vishal told the attending doctor both children had been hit by a vehicle while playing on the road, the doctor noticed marks on their necks and called in the police.
Police sources said human hair (belonging to Renu), lemons and red chilli powder were recovered from the floor of the flat. The accused will be produced before a local sessions court on Sunday.