A seven-year-old girl was ritually murdered and her liver offered to the gods in return for a good agricultural harvest in the central state of Chhattisgarh, India, police said on Sunday.
According to Narayan Das, police chief of Bijapur district, in a telephone conversation with AFP: "A seven-year-old girl was sacrificed by two persons superstitiously believing that the act would give a better harvest."
Police arrested two men in connection with the murder of Lalita Tati after her body was found in October. Her family had reported her missing. According to the police, the men confessed to the crime.
AFP reports that the jungle district of Chhattisgarh is a rebel Maoist stronghold where human sacrifice is still practised. The sacrifices are believed to appease the gods, spirits and deities.
The district of Chhattisgarh is not the only one in India where human sacrifice is practised. In 2010, the decapitated body of a factory worker was found in a temple in the eastern state of West Bengal.
The practice of child sacrifice persists in many parts of India in spite of efforts by government to stop it. In 2006, The Guardian reported a case of sacrifice of a child in the village of Barha in the province of Khurja, Uttar Pradesh. Sumitra Bushan, 43, became convinced that she was cursed with nightmares by the goddess Kali. She would often wake up in the middle of the night screaming. On the advice of a tantrik or traveling "holy man," she sacrificed a chicken and offered the blood to appease the goddess. But the nightmares continued. She consulted the tantrick once again and he told her: "For the sake of your family, you must sacrifice another, a boy from your village." Sumitra and her two sons abducted three-year-old Aakash Singh in the neighborhood . According to The Guardian:
"They dragged him into their home and the eldest son performed a puja ceremony, reciting a mantra and waving incense. Sumitra smeared sandalwood paste and globules of ghee over the terrified child's body. The two men then used a knife to slice off the child's nose, ears and hands before laying him, bleeding, in front of Kali's image."
Superstition that human sacrifices are the most potent for warding off certain categories of danger persists in remote rural parts of India where the people are illiterate and superstitious. Sanal Edamaruku, president of the Indian Rationalist Association, said: "Modern India is home to hundreds of millions who can't read or write, but who often seek refuge from life's realities through astrology or the magical arts of shamans. Unfortunately these people focus their horrific attention on society's weaker members, mainly women and children who are easier to handle and kidnap."