A group of occultists beheaded a 55-year-old tribal man during an alleged human sacrifice ritual for better harvest and timely rains in Jharkhand, police said on Monday.
The headless body of Thepa Kharia was recovered from his home in Kharvadih-Kadamdohar village in Gumla district, 130km west of state capital Ranchi, on Sunday.
Kharia’s family told police that he was killed by Orkas or Mudkatwa, an occultist group that buries human heads in paddy fields for better rains and harvest.
The man was alone in the house when the group entered, killed him and took away his head, police said.
Jharkhand has witnessed an extreme heat wave for the past week and temperatures have touched 47 degree Celsius in parts of the state. Experts believe there will be no respite till monsoon hits this part of India by the second week of June.
Ajay Kumar Thakur, the officer in-charge of Palkhot police station, said, “Thepa was killed in the wee hours of Sunday. He used to live alone. Not finding Thepa in the Sunday market, villagers broke open his house’s door. They found him lying in a pool of blood.”
Thakur said Kharia’s relatives were forced to lodge an FIR. “Nobody in this area dare complaint about the Orkas. Most villagers are scared of this group that roams habitats just before the monsoons,” he said.
Police have launched a hunt for occultists in the area.
Kharia’s younger brother Jatru Kharia said, “Orkas can be anyone, from farmers to tantriks. They bury the head in the field and expect that the sacrifice will yield good harvest for the community.”
Jatru said this is an age-old ritual that has not been opposed.
In 2012, a woman was sacrificed in Lohardaga by her husband for better harvest, and villagers in Gumla saved a girl from being sacrificed by occultist groups in 2013.
Last year, it was reported that a man was beheaded in Gumla by people who alleged he practiced witchcraft. Police, however, suspected it was a case of human sacrifice.