Image: Arun Chandra Bose / BBC
Two women in Kerala were allegedly abducted, beheaded and buried as part of a suspected ‘witchcraft ritual’ to gain financial prosperity at Elanthoor village in Pathanamthitta district, the police told The Indian Express on Tuesday, October 11, adding that one person has been arrested in the case while two others are in custody.
While the police took Bhagaval Singh, a traditional healer who used to attend to patients at his home, and his wife Laila, into custody from Elanthoor, a person named Shafi alias Rasheed from Perumbavoor was also arrested.
The residential plot in Elanthoor in Kerala’s Pathanamthitta district where the women were reportedly beheaded and their bodies buried. (Sourced) “He is the first accused in the case. The arrest of the healer and his wife would be recorded soon. The women were taken to the healer by Shafi on the promise of money. They adopted a very cruel method to kill the women,” Kochi City Police Commissioner C H Nagaraju said.
“We suspect that a ritualistic human sacrifice has taken place. We have to exhume the bodies of the women. The women were beheaded and their bodies were buried at Elanthoor in Pathanamthitta,” he added.
The Kerala police later also told the media that ‘human sacrifice’ accused Shafi is a “pervert”, mutilated victims’ private parts. Shafi, who used sharp weapons to attack the genitals of his 75-year-old rape victim in 2020, did the same to his latest victims, according to Kochi police commissioner C H Nagaraju.
Kochi city police commissioner C H Nagaraju elaborated on this background on October 12 when he said that Shafi had earlier injured the private parts of a 75-year-old woman whom he had raped. He was arrested in the case in 2020. He showed the same perversion towards the two women who were killed allegedly as part of ritualistic human sacrifice.
The police have now initiated steps to exhume the bodies. “This is not going to be an ordinary missing case. This is a very complicated case with many layers,” Nagaraju said.According to the police, two lottery vendors from Ernakulam district named Roslin and Padma were reported missing in June and September, respectively. The police learnt of the ‘human sacrifice’ as part of their investigation into Padma’s case.
Police commissioner Nagaraju said the main objective of the human sacrifice was the couple’s financial prosperity. “We have already got the confessional statements of the couple and the agent. The women were killed by the couple in a very cruel manner. The couple had been facing a financial crisis and they decided to sacrifice the women to appease God and come out of the crisis,” Nagaraju said. The bodies, reportedly chopped into pieces, were buried on the farmland adjacent to the couple’s house, he added.
On September 26, a woman named Palaniyamma filed a complaint at the Kadavanthra police station, under the Kochi City police, reporting her sister Padma missing. Padma hailed from Dharmapuri in Tamil Nadu but had been staying in Kochi for the last few months. An analysis of mobile phone records led the police to Shafi. The police took Shafi into custody and his interrogation led to the revelation of the twin murders. Police commissioner Nagaraju said the main objective of the human sacrifice was the couple’s financial prosperity. (Sourced)
It was on June 8, 2022 that Roslin, 49, went missing. She was a lottery vendor at Kalady in Ernakulam district, she was staying with her partner. Her daughter Manju, who works as a teacher in Uttar Pradesh, came to Kerala and filed a complaint with the Kalady police on August 17. However, the Kaladi police failed to find any leads.
Shafi allegedly exploited the financial constraints of the two women and lured them to Singh, the police said. According to the police, Shafi had befriended Singh through social media after creating a fake profile. A preliminary probe has revealed that Shafi made the couple believe that a human sacrifice would bring them financial prosperity, the police said, adding that he brought the women to the healer’s house and also doubled up as a black magic practitioner. The police are also checking if Shafi pocketed money from the couple to bring the women to them.
Singh, whose family are traditional healers at Elanthoor, has an active social media presence and has thousands of followers. Locals said that he was also an active CPI(M) worker. Singh used to post haikus on his social media pages and even used to conduct classes on haiku poetry. According to the police, the victims were trapped by Shafi, who offered them money for acting in a porn video. He had identified them from among lottery vendors who frequented his restaurant in Kochi.
According to details released by the police commissioner to the media, Shafi had created a fake Facebook account in 2019 under the name of “Sreedevi” where he attempted to lure persons through posts about offering puja services for increasing wealth. Sixty-year-old Singh fell in love with “Sreedevi’’, who convinced him that a black magic practitioner named Rasheed could bring fortunes for his family. Thereafter, frequent communications between “Sreedevi” and Singh followed over Facebook and later Shafi turned up at the couple’s house as Rasheed, according to the police.
Police said they had got leads about the brutal murders while investigating a missing case booked for Padmam, a native of Tamil Nadu, who went missing on September 26. They found CCTV footage from Kochi that showed a woman boarding an SUV, which was later identified as one that used to take Padmam to Pathanamthitta. Call records and mobile tower locations of Padmam’s cell phone also helped police reach Singh’s house at Elanthoor.
For the past three years, Shafi had been constantly in touch with Singh and he took a year to convince the family that “human sacrifice was required to achieve prosperity”, according to police. Shafi, who had left his home in Idukki at the age of 16, has a family but kept moving from one place to another in Kerala doing sundry jobs. He was a truck driver when he was arrested in the rape case, registered at Ernakulam district’s Puthencruz police station.
The commissioner said police were looking at the financial transactions between Shafi and the couple. Shafi had reportedly pocketed Rs 3 lakh from the couple, he said.
Based on reports in The Indian Express