| Amritlal Mazumdar in saffron robe, after he was handed over to police. Picture by Eastern Projections
Guwahati, June 13: A self-proclaimed “seeker of truth” today slit his 18-month-old daughter’s throat at the Kamakhya temple here in a bizarre quest for “divine powers”, but a group of saner devotees intervened to save her life.
The girl, Taramai, would have died had some visitors to the temple not responded to her wails when her 35-year-old father attempted to sacrifice her at the altar with a sharp weapon. The incident occurred around 1.30 pm.
The man, who claimed to be a tantrik, was assaulted by the devotees and handed over to Jalukbari police.
Guwahati superintendent of police H.C. Nath said the man, identified as Amritlal Mazumdar, had confessed to his crime. The officer quoted him as saying that he thought sacrificing his daughter would prompt the deity to bestow him with divine powers.
Doctors at the dispensary in the temple premises stitched Taramai’s wound and handed her over to the Missionaries of Charity-run Sishu Bhavan. She is stated to be out of danger.
An office-bearer of the Kamakyha Debuttar Trust, which manages the temple, described the incident as a “minor case”. He said the man was “mentally deranged and addicted to ganja”.
One of the devotees present at the temple when the incident took place said the girl was lucky to survive.
“I saw people bring out the girl with blood oozing from the wound on her neck. Her clothes were completely blood-soaked,” he said.
The police said the girl seemed to have been “dressed up” for the intended sacrifice, with her body smeared with alta.
The accused, who initially identified himself as Satya Das — meaning “seeker of truth” — said he had been fasting and praying at the temple for the past four days.
Wearing saffron robes and sporting a bright tilak on his forehead, he said, “Whatever I did, I did for the truth and whatever I will do, it will be for the truth.”
Officer-in-charge of Jalukbari police station, D. Gogoi, said Mazumdar could be mentally deranged. He was taken for a medical check-up in the evening to ascertain his mental condition. The report is expected tomorrow.
The police are trying to ascertain whether the girl who was about to be sacrificed is actually Mazumdar’s daughter.
They have already found out that his wife left him after a quarrel.
“If she is not his daughter, he will be additionally charged with abduction,” a police official said.
Residents of the Kamakhya area said they had noticed the accused loitering in the temple complex during the past few days along with the child.
Nobody paid much attention to him because, as one resident said, “he looked like one of the many devotees who have arrived for the Ambubachi Mela”.
The fair, the biggest religious event in the temple’s annual calendar, gets under way this month.
According to a journal of the Assam Research Society, the practice of human sacrifice was prevalent in the temple till the reign of King Gaurinath Singha (1780-1796).
In medieval times, narabali (human sacrifice) at the altar of Goddess Shakti was believed to be the first step towards acquiring divine powers. Girls were, however, never sacrificed.
It is said that human effigies are now used for the ritual, albeit in utmost secrecy.
The sacrifice is generally made at midnight, on Ashtami during Durga Puja.
Animals continue to be sacrificed at the altar on special occasions.
This has often caused friction between animal rights activists and the temple’s trustees.