This is spooky as it gets. At least a dozen graves have been dug up in the graveyards of Begu and Nandwai, in Rajasthan’s Chittorgarh district, since May 11, with the latest incident occurring sometime late this Wednesday night. In each of the three cases, the incident took place in the intervening night between Wednesday and Thursday, and seven graves dug up were of deceased whose names began with ‘S’.
Heads of three bodies were severed from their torsos, and two were found missing, along with the headstones.
While the police and district administration suspect it is handiwork of people involved in tantric activities or black magic, people from the minority community have begun protests and believe it could be a ruse to stoke up communal tension. Hundreds of locals staged a protest at the local bus station and blocked the road for a few hours Thursday.
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On Thursday morning, Mehboob Ali, chief of Begu Qabristan (graveyard) Committee, saw loose mud on a grave. “The body — the deceased was nearly 50 — had been buried about a month ago,” he said. Suspicious, the graveyard staff dug up and found the head was severed. It was missing. “Someone had dug it at night, and then covered it with mud and plants to make it appear untouched,” Ali said,
Other graves at the graveyard in Begu, a small town 60-odd kilometres from Chittorgarh, appear untouched, Ali said.
Six graves at the graveyard had been dug up sometime during the night of May 11 — also a Wednesday — and the bodies, gravestones, and wooden planks were left lying around. The burial sheets on the bodies were undone, Ali said. The head of one corpse was missing — and like the latest incident, the headstone, too, was missing.
“All seven deceased whose graves were tampered with had names starting with the letter ‘S’. Whether it is the work of a tantrik is for the police to find out,” Ali said.
On complaints lodged by Ali, FIRs were lodged at Begun police station for both instances under IPC Sections 295 (injuring or defiling place of worship with intent to insult the religion of any class), 297 (trespassing on burial places, etc.) and 379 (theft).
On May 18, five graves were similarly dug up at the graveyard in Nandwai, a village nearly 20 km from Begu. A head was severed but was left behind. Incidentally, names of the deceased this time did not begin with ‘S’, said Ajiz Khan, chief of Nandwai Qabristan Committee. But that incident also took place in the night between Wednesday and Thursday.
“An FIR was lodged under IPC Section 297, as the culprits did not take away any body or their parts, although the graves were tampered with,” Parsoli SHO Indra Singh said.
Mohammad Yunus, a former local corporator and community leader, said they had alerted the district administration after the first incident itself but alleged that the officials did not take it seriously. “They never questioned anyone in this connection. They say a tantrik could be behind this but some communal elements might be trying to vitiate the environment,” Yunus said.
About Thursday’s protest, Munshi Khan, a local community leader, said, “People are angry…. We have given the police an ultimatum and they have sought five days to nab whoever is behind this — be it a tantrik, a deranged man, or communal elements,” he said.
Chittorgarh District Collector Inderjeet Singh said, “Prima facie, it seems to be a case of black magic.” SP Prasanna Kumar Khamesra also said, “The circumstances point to tantrict (activities).”