A case of twin murders where two young girls were brutally killed by their parents in an occultist ceremony in Andhra Pradesh has led to widespread outrage and speculation. The incident occurred in Madanapalli on Sunday night and according to reports, the parents, who were dubbed "mentally disturbed" by media and police, were reportedly in a trance and believed that their two daughters - whom they bludgeoned to death with dumbells and a trishool (trident) - could be brought back from the dead.
As more and more details regarding the strange case are divulged by AP police, it became increasingly clear that the killings were part of a religious or occultists ritual. According to reports, the couple remained in a trance even when cops arrived at their home on Sunday night. While the father, V Purushottam Naidu, came out of the trance, the mother, Padmaja, continued to dance and shout around the bodies.
While believing that the daughters would be able to be brought back to life, reports claimed that the mother also held misinformed beliefs about the coronavirus originating not in China but was instead a creation of Gods to get rid of "bad elements" in "Kali Yug". On Sunday when cops arrived at the Naidu residence, Padmaja allegedly screamed, "Corona did not come from China...it came from Shiva. I am Shiva and corona will be gone by March".
This, however, is not the first time that such an incident has shocked the nation. Crimes with occultist angles surface every now and then and leave many questions in their wake.
The brutal murder is oddly reminiscent of the ritualistic death of eleven members of a family in Burari in 2018 and several other such cases that surfaced in the past five years. While some were related to occultist rituals, others were traced back to mental health illness.
Here are some of the most prolific of those cases:
Burari mass deaths, 2018
In July 2018, eleven members of the Bhatia family were found hanging from the ceiling of their home in Delhi's Burari. The deceased including the apparent matriarch - 77-year-old Narayani Devi - and her two sons and their wives, her daughter, and five grandchildren.
Many of the bodies were found with their limbs and mouths tied and eyes blindfolded. Ten of the bodies were found hanging in the hallway while Narayani Devi was found on the floor of an adjacent room with ligature marks around her neck.
While there were no immediate explanations for the deaths, investigators and forensic experts later found 11 notebooks containing incantations and instructions for the ritual. Police found evidence of a "hawan" being performed right before the hangings. The family even ordered food from the outside and eight of their cellphones were found taped to a drawer inside the house. According to police reports, the family had purportedly been sure that each would survive the ritualistic hangings.
While initial investigations recorded the case as a murder, further findings established the fact that the plan had been masterminded by one of Narayani's sons, Lalit Bhatia who had taken over the role of his father - the patriarch - since the latter's death in 2007. Later forensic reports found that there were no signs of foul play and that the deaths were not suicides but accidental mass death during a ritual.
Human sacrifice in Kanpur, 2020
In November 2020, on the occasion of Diwali, a young man and his accomplice in Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh, hacked a seven-year-old schoolgirl from their neighborhood to death. They went on to extract the liver and other organs of the minor girl and presented them to the young man's uncle and aunt to eat as part of an occultist ritual. It was believed that eating the organs of the deceased child would help the childless couple conceive a baby. While police initially ruled that the murder was the result of the girl's resistance to sexual violence. But after interrogation, the chief accused broke down and confessed that the killing was part of a human sacrifice ritual.
Dayalbagh hangings, 2018
Months from the Burari mass deaths, an eerily similar case surfaced in Dayalbagh in Faridabad when four members of a family were found hanging from the ceiling of their home. The Mathews consisted of four siblings - a brother and three sisters - all of whom were found hanging in a similar fashion. The deaths were discovered after a considerable time and only after a neighbour found blood seeping out from below the main entrance of the Mathews' residence. Police, however, ruled out occultism or foul play on the basis of suicide notes recovered from the house in which the deceased claimed they took their own lives due to financial instability and the pain caused by the death of their parents and youngest brother. In the suicide note, the family also demanded that their belongings be sold to fund the funerals of the four.
Astral projections killings in Kerala, 2017
In April 2017, Thiruvananthapuram resident Cadell Jeanson Raja, 30, killed his parents, his sister as well as a relative and tried to burn their bodies as part of an experimental astral projection ritual. After being nabbed by cops, the man claimed he had been experimenting with astral projection techniques that are believed to bring forth a "soul out of body" experience. The bodies of the parents and sister were found completely burnt while the body of the relative, an elderly aunt, was found chopped up and covered inside the Rajas' residence. Raja, who was arrested for the killings, told the police that performing astral projections gave him extra strength which helped him push his physical and intellectual limits. He also said that by conducting the experiment, Raja had been trying to "speak to their souls". The case led to a fresh debate about the prevalence of religious and occultist practices driven by superstition in India and the lack of competent laws to tackle them.
Kolkata House of Horrors, 2015
In a case that went down in history as s real-life reincarnation of filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock's 'Psycho', a man named Partho De was found to be living with the bodies of his deceased sister and two deceased pet dogs for six months in Kolkata. Police stumbled upon the discovery while investigating the death by suicide of Pratho's septuagenarian father Aurobindo De who was found charred in the second floor of Partho's house in June 2015. Further investigations revealed that Partho had been living for six months with the skeletons of his sister and two dogs. Psychological evaluations and forensic investigations revealed that Partho had been living with mental illness and had a distinctly disturbing family history, riddled with sexual meted out to him and his sister by the hands of his deceased mother.
While occultism was ruled out, investigators found that Partho's sister Debjani had been a religious person and killed herself with a systematic cycle of fasting. Both Partho and their father watched her wither away but did not take her to the doctor, After the woman and the dogs' deaths, Partho was said to have offered the decomposing bodies food and even sat at the same table to eat breakfast with them. In February 2017, Partho killed himself by setting himself on fire in the toilet of his then flat, just like his father.