In Chhattisgarh village, cops see human sacrifice in girl’s mystery death


It's been two and a half months since seven-year-old Lalita Tati went missing from her village in Chhattisgarh's Bijapur district. Six days later, the child's parents found her decomposed, mutilated body, with nearly all organs missing. Amid talk of grisly local custom in this impoverished tribal area, police have arrested two men who they allege killed Lalita to propitiate a bloodthirsty female deity.

Lalita went missing on October 21. Her father, Budhram Tati, discovered her body on October 27. The autopsy report said "cause of death cannot be ascertained as the body parts were eaten away by maggots". Nearly all of Lalita's organs, including the liver, were missing, the report said.

The Bijapur police initially suspected a rape-murder, but last week arrested Sukku Padam, a resident of Jailwara village where Lalita lived with her parents, and Ignesh Kujur of Toornar village. "They have confessed that they cut her body and offered her liver to the goddess to ensure a good harvest," superintendent of police R N Dash said.

The police have sent samples from Lalita's body to the forensic science laboratory in Raipur.

Local councillor Vella Ram, who is Tati's neighbour in Jailwara, a village that came into existence some years ago to house tribals displaced by Naxalite violence, especially after the Salwa Judum rising, argued that Sukku would have had no reason to kill Lalita.

"Sukku is not a farmer, just a poor daily labourer. How can he sacrifice someone for a harvest? The place where the body was found is around 15 km from the temple named by the police."

Ignesh Kujur's son, Anil, said they were Christian and did not believe in sacrifices. Lalita's cousin Narayan too said human sacrifice was not heard of in the community. Several local people alleged the police had forced a confession out of Sukku and Ignesh.

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