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Police and locals at the site where the two women were allegedly murdered and buried at Elanthoor in Kerala. Photo: PTI

Indian trio in Kerala arrested over alleged human sacrifice case linked to women’s deaths

  • Remains of the two victims were found buried in the couple’s backyard and exhumed by the police on Tuesday
  • Police said they have information that the victim’s flesh was eaten, “but we don’t have any evidence”

Indian authorities have arrested three people for the alleged murder of two women in a purported case of human sacrifice in the southern state of Kerala.

According to The Indian Express newspaper, police said that the suspects – a married couple and another man – had “severely tortured” the victims before killing them and cutting their bodies into pieces.

Police said the suspects had confessed to the crime and an investigation was ongoing.

Remains of the two victims – lottery ticket-sellers Padmam and Rosly – were found buried in the couple’s backyard in Elanthoor village and exhumed by the police on Tuesday.

The two women had gone missing months apart, according to a police report. Padmam, 52, was reported as missing on September 26 and Rosly, 49, had not been heard from as far back as June 6, according to The Indian Express.

(L) Bhagaval Singh and (R) Laila. Photo: Facebook

In a press conference on Wednesday, Kochi City Police Commissioner CH Nagaraju said that Mohammad Shafi, a 52-year-old “occult practitioner”, had been the main conspirator behind the murders.

He had convinced Bhagaval Singh, a 60-year-old traditional healer and masseur, and his wife Laila, 52, that the human sacrifice was part of a ritual that would lead to financial benefits, Nagaraju said.

Shafi is also accused of having eaten the flesh of one of the victims. Police have “information” that Shafi had consumed Rosly’s flesh, “but we don’t have any evidence”, said Nagaraju.

“Shafi committed acts of sexual perversion on women. He is a pervert and a psychopath,” he added.

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Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said the shocking crime had numbed the human conscience and that abducting and killing people for superstitious reasons was a crime “beyond imagination in a state like Kerala”.

News outlet Hindustan Times reported that Shafi had trawled through social media to find the women, and lured them to the couple’s home under the ruse of money and work.

Rosly had been killed first, a senior police officer told the Hindustan Times.

“The second murder was far more brutal because after the first, Singh reached out to Shafi complaining that he had seen no gain in material wealth, and was told that there needed to be a more gruesome sacrifice because the family was under a curse,” the officer said.