India: five arrested for the murder of a woman, victim of a ritual sacrifice

India: five arrested for the murder of a woman, victim of a ritual sacrifice


Indian police have arrested five men for the murder of a 60-year-old ritual sacrifice victim whose headless body was discovered in a Hindu temple four years ago. 

Shanti Shaw, 64, was killed and beheaded with a machete in 2019 at a temple in the city of Guwahati in the northeastern state of Assam.

Police had no made no progress in solving this case until the body of the victim was finally identified last January, allowing a new investigation to be opened and suspects to be arrested.

Five men have were arrested between March 25 and April 1 and “premeditated the murder of the woman,” Guwahati Police Commissioner Diganta Barah told reporters on Tuesday evening.

“A total of 12 people participated,” he said. Police are looking for their seven accomplices still at large.

One of the five suspects arrested, Pradeep Pathak, 52, had orchestrated the sacrifice of Ms Shaw as part of a religious rite organized to commemorate the anniversary of his brother's death, according to the commissioner.

“The accused apparently believed that this sacrifice would soothe the soul of the deceased,” the policeman explained.

The National Office criminal records recorded 103 cases of human sacrifice in the country between 2014 and 2021, usually committed during religious rituals.

They are more common in tribal and remote areas, where occult beliefs and witchcraft are more common.

In 2022, two men were arrested for the murder of a 6-year-old boy in New Delhi and told police they had given the child as an offering to Shiva in the hope that this Hindu deity helps them to get rich.