Kalawati Gupta, 57, of Mumbai was the victim of a sacrifice, according to Thane Rural police. Her body was found at Nalasopara last December, the head severed, and a tantrik was among five people arrested a month later.
Kalawati’s is among 76 cases, and one of seven involving human sacrifice or murder, registered in the first year of the Maharashtra Prevention and Eradication of Human Sacrifice and other Inhuman, Evil and Aghori Practices and Black Magic Act, 2013, according to data compiled by Maharashtra Andhashradda Nirmulan Samiti (MANS) of late crusader Dr Narendra Dabholkar. The Act was enacted a week after Dabholkar’s murder; Wednesday, August 20, is his death anniversary.
Kalawati used to visit the tantrik, Saravjit Ramdev Kahar, for a cure for her ailing son. According to the chargesheet filed under sections of the superstition Act and IPC, Kahar planned her sacrifice as a solution to the problems of two other clients, brothers Ramdhani Yadav and Gulab Yadav who, the chargesheet, went on to behead her.
Three-year-old Krishna too is believed to have been sacrificed after he disappeared from the courtyard of his house in a Solapur village on March 28. “After three days we found his clothes, footwear and chain. The police found some bones that appeared to be of a child,” said the boy’s father, Sadashiv Sadgar. “Several factors pointed towards human sacrifice —there was no ransom call, the hill where the belongings were found had a history of incidents relating to superstition, and the boy had disappeared just two days before Somavati Amavasya, when such aghori practices are generally carried out,” said Govind Patil of MANS. Police booked unknown persons under IPC sections of kidnapping and murder along with sections of the superstition Act; no arrests have been made.
besides Kalawati’s, two other cases involving a murder have culminated in chargesheets under the Act. One is against four members of the family of Uttam Dunedar, who died after years of battling blood cancer, of Khamkhurra village in Gondia. Police say his family believed Uttam was the victim of black magic by Prakash Paradhi of the same village. On March 10, Dunedar brothers Baliram Deenaji, 34, Naresh, 34, Suresh, 40, and Bhaurao, 40, allegedly attacked Paradhi, his father Shrawan, 65, and wife Vandana, 35. “They dragged them to a temple and beat them them up with sticks. Prakash died on the way to hospital,” said Gajanan Rajmane, subdivisional police officer.
The other chargesheet relates to the murder of Shankar Pimpalkar, 55, of Bamni village in Chandrapur in July. He and his partner, Kantabai Kasture, 47, were beaten up by a mob who believed his witchcraft was the cause of their troubles. Deputy sarpanch Rakesh Bahuria and four others were chargesheeted, SDPO Raju Bhujbal said.
Yet another victim of suspicion was Mahadev Bhagadkar, 55, of Navargaon in Arher. He was killed by neighbour Aatish Javtale, 22, police say. Inspector K D Nagrale said, “Javtale lost two heads of cattle to illness, several members of his family fell ill and he too had a tumour in his foot. Javtale blamed all this on black magic by Bhagadkar.” Bhagadkar was chopped to death in October, and Javtale booked under the superstition Act and IPC.
Kishor Khandagale, 30, who has a farmhouse at Vanjoli village in Ahmednagar, recounts a rescue from under a pipal tree from May 24. “We saw a group of eight to 10 sitting in a circle, reciting mantras, with a naked woman sitting in the middle. We caught five of them, three of them locals,” he said. “We also seized human skulls and bones, a live tortoise, and a notebook with the names of four children under the heading, ‘Children to be offered as prasad’. The men told us a hidden treasure needed to be fed five children to reveal itself.”
“One of the boys, Atul, had been taken to a temple,” said Shrikant Khandagale, who later filed a complaint with the police. The rescued boy’s father, Prakas Shirsat, said, “That night and the next day, Atul was dizzy and didn’t remember anything,” he said.
The police booked five men for trying to cheat a man. SP Raosaheb Shinde said, “Villagers we spoke to did not talk about the attempt at a sacrifice. We were told about a ritual for a money rain, and we registered a case under relevant sections.” Ranjana Gawande, MANS executive president for Ahmednagar, said: “Despite activists and locals protesting, police are yet to book the three men who were caught attempting a human sacrifice.”
On June 27, 2014 , Latur police arrested three men while 15 men and women are absconding. Villagers of Machratwadi had caught the 18 with a seven-year-old girl who, according to police, was to be sacrificed after one of them had dreamt about a treasure buried under a farm. They have been booked for attempting the sacrifice.