Kerala women ‘sacrificed’ in ritual to ‘get rich’, 3 arrested: Police | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Kerala women ‘sacrificed’ in ritual to ‘get rich’, 3 arrested: Police

By, Thiruvananthapuram
Oct 12, 2022 12:22 AM IST

Two middle-aged women were killed four months apart, their bodies cut into pieces and buried in the backyard of their house by the Kerala couple

A man sold a Kerala couple the idea that human sacrifice could lead to prosperity; together, the three lured two women to the couple’s Pathanamthitta house over a four-month period, killed them and buried them in the backyard after cutting their body into pieces. The three were arrested on Tuesday, police said.

Undated photos of Roselie (left) and Padma who were allegedly murdered and buried in a case of black magic and human sacrifice at Elanthoor in Pathanamthitta district of Kerala. (PTI)
Undated photos of Roselie (left) and Padma who were allegedly murdered and buried in a case of black magic and human sacrifice at Elanthoor in Pathanamthitta district of Kerala. (PTI)

The body parts of one of the two women, whose name was given as P Padma, have been exhumed and will be sent for a confirmatory DNA test, said Kochi police commissioner CH Nagaraju after the three were arrested. The three have been identified as Bhagaval Singh, who described himself as a traditional healer, his wife, Laila, and Mohammad Shafi alias Rasheed.

It all started around eight months ago when Shafi advertised in a local newspaper that he had the ability to conduct rituals that would make his clients rich. The couple saw the ad and responded.

Over the following weeks and months, Shafi became close to the couple and persuaded them that a human sacrifice would change their fortunes.

The Kochi police commissioner said Shafi convinced Roselie, a lottery ticket vendor from Kalady in Ernakulam, to come to the couple’s house for some work in June. She was taken to Singh’s house and tied to a bed and murdered after performing an occult ritual. “Her head was chopped off by Laila and her body was cut into pieces before burying them in the courtyard of their house,” the officer said.

But after some time, the couple complained to Shafi that there was no improvement in their finances. Shafi managed to convince them that they were under some sort of a curse and another sacrifice would do the trick.

It isn’t clear whether he had some other motive; Shafi, police claim, was paid “lakhs of rupees” by the couple.

Shafi got P Padma, also a lottery ticket seller, a native of Ponnurunni on the outskirts of Kochi, over to the couple’s family in September. She was also killed and her body parts buried in the compound, near the spot Roselie lay.

But this time, police followed up on the missing complaint that Padma’s sister filed on September 27, the day she went missing.

Police said her phone’s location was shown to be in Pathanamthitta district’s Thriuvalla. Her call records indicated that she had made many calls to Shafi around the time that she disappeared. It isn’t clear how the two were acquainted.

When Shafi was initially questioned, Nagaraju said he was evasive. He was subsequently taken into custody, which is when he revealed details of the murders.

“During questioning, the accused admitted that both were killed brutally,” Nagaraju said. “A special investigation team is being set up to gather all evidence in this case.”

Chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan expressed shock over the incident and said it should not have happened in a state such as Kerala (the state has the highest level of literacy in the country). Vijayan further said that vigilant investigation of a missing case led to the unfolding of the twin murder.

“Abducting and killing people for wealth and superstitious beliefs is a crime which is beyond imagination in a state like Kerala,” he said in a statement, urging people to come forward to identify such evil practices and bring them to public notice.

The National Commission for Women (NCW) has also sought a report from the state police.

The gruesome murders have shocked the state. Neighbours of Singh, a traditional healer, said it was difficult for them to believe he was a party to gory murders. He was active in social circles and was a well-known massage therapist. They said he divorced his first wife a decade ago and married Laila. They said his children from the first marriage were settled abroad.

“The house is located on a large plot of land. Many people used to come here for treatment for fracture, bruises and other such ailments. We never suspected anything foul and he was well mannered as well. It is difficult to believe,” said a local resident, Gopan K.

People known to Shafi described him as a “wayward” person addicted to liquor and drugs. Police said he was involved in many criminal cases and was first accused of sexually assaulting a 75-year-old woman in Kolencherry in Pathanamthitta two years ago. After spending a year in jail, he secured a bail and shifted to Perumbavoor near Ernakulam.

Padma’s son Selvarajan said he could not recognize her body. He said their family came to Kochi two decades ago from Dharmapuri in Tamil Nadu .

“There are many layers in the so-called ritualistic human sacrifice. Some of their revelations are really shocking. Shafi received lakhs of rupees for bringing these victims to the couple,” said the police commissioner.

The Kerala high court, meanwhile, expressed shock over the incident.

“The fact that we are hearing about the human sacrifice in Kerala is beyond shocking,” Justice Devan Ramachandran said, while hearing a case. “Some of the things happening here are beyond limits of absurdity. I wonder where Kerala is going,” he added.

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