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Five Arrested Over Human Sacrifice At Indian Temple

Indian police have made a breakthrough in a baffling case involving a woman’s headless body discovered at a Hindu temple in Guwahati nearly four years ago. The discovery led to the recent arrests of five men accused of conducting a human sacrifice.

The victim, Shanti Shaw, aged 64, was killed and decapitated with a machete in 2019, after visiting the temple in the remote north-eastern city.

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“The five planned the killing of the woman,” said Guwahati police commissioner, Diganta Barah, adding that “a total of 12 people took part.”

According to Barah, the alleged ringleader, Pradeep Pathak, aged 52, orchestrated the killing as part of a religious rite to mark the anniversary of his brother’s death. “The accused apparently believed that the sacrifice would appease the soul of the deceased,” he added.

Pathak and four others were taken into custody between 25 March and 1 April, with police still hunting for their remaining seven accomplices.

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Devotees visit the Kamakhya temple in Guwahati. Shanti Shaw, 64, was killed and decapitated in 2019 after visiting the temple in the city. Photograph: Surjeet Yadav/AFP/Getty Images

India’s National Crime Records Bureau has reported 103 cases of human sacrifice in the country between 2014 and 2021. Ritual killings are usually conducted to appease deities and are more common in tribal and remote areas where belief in witchcraft and the occult is widespread.

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In the capital city, New Delhi, two construction workers were arrested last year for allegedly killing a six-year-old boy as an offering to the Hindu god, Shiva, in exchange for wealth.

As these shocking events demonstrate, superstition and belief in the occult continue to persist in certain parts of India, sometimes leading to the most heinous of crimes.

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