Police on Monday arrested two persons in connection with the death of a 21-year-old woman after she was allegedly subjected to black magic to get rid of her physical ailment.
Victim P Athira, 21, a native of Vadasserikkara in Central Kerala’s Pathanamthitta district, died on last Friday. The arrested were Pathanamthitta district congress committee office clerk Valsan and his son-in-law Mithosh. They were charged under sections 304 (murder), 336 ( act endangering life) and 337 (causing hurt by an act endangering life) of IPC. A court remanded them into judicial custody.
According to police, Athira was brought dead to the government hospital in the district quarters on Friday night. Her parents, construction workers, wanted to take back the body, but police was alerted about the burn injuries on her body, particularly on both her palms and under the chin.
Subsequent probe into the mysterious death exposed the incident of the black magic. Two months back, another woman in Kollam district had died due to severe torture from an exorcist.
Deputy police superintendent A Santhosh Kumar said Athira was subjected to black magic and poojas for three days, denying medical treatment which led to the failure of her internal organs leading to death.
“The woman, once able-bodied, was suffering from excessive weight loss. Last week, parents took her to the house of her uncle Valsan, where she was subjected to torture under the guise of prayer. Valsan’s son-in law Mithosh was the main exorcist,’’ said the officer.
“They burned camphor in her both palms during prayer sessions. Besides, around 50 incense sticks of sandal were burned together and kept under her chin. She was asked inhale the smoke. In the exercise, her chin sustained burns,’’ said the police officer.
On Friday, when the woman collapsed into karoorazhi (a fire by burning camphor) in front of her. Several parts of her body sustained burn injuries. On that night, she was taken to the hospital, where she was pronounced brought dead. Her parents wanted to take the body without autopsy, a move which was later blocked by the police.
The victim and the accused belong to Hindu Vellala community in Kerala. Vadasserikkara panchayat member O N Yesodaran said the woman family was closely associated with an ashram at Mavelikkara.
“Occasionally the woman used to slip into coma. Despite undergoing treatment in many hospitals, she could not be cured of that they used to conduct regular prayers at their house, but we haven’t received any information that black magic was performed in the house,’’ said Yesodaran.
Police said the woman was taken to the house of Valsan, where his son-in-law Mithosh led the prayers. Police have identified three others who had assisted in the black magic.