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Severed head at temple altar raises sacrifice stink

Hariharpara, May 15: The torso of a 77-year-old man was found in front of his home in a Murshidabad village today while his severed head was discovered on the altar of a Kali temple a kilometre away, with police suspecting a human sacrifice.

Ganga Malpahari was targeted because he lived alone in his house at Choa in Hariharpara, the police said, adding the person who killed him was known to the widower whose two sons work in brick kilns in Assam and in another part of the Murshidabad town.

“We suspect the person who committed the crime knew Ganga and that he stayed alone in the house. We have detained seven of Ganga’s neighbours for interrogation. Preliminary investigation indicates Ganga was sacrificed and his head offered at the altar of the Kali temple,” said Arup Roy, the officer in charge of Hariharpara police station.

Another officer said the altar was stained with blood, and hibiscus and other flowers were strewn all over, evidence enough that a Kali puja was performed. The temple is situated near a cremation ground about a kilometre from Choa, a tribal pocket.

Ganga was dependent on his two sons who sent him money every month and lived alone in his hut through most year of the year except during monsoon when his sons came home.

According to the police, the sacrifice was committed by a single person. “We believe one person committed the murder. We are not sure if Ganga was murdered first and then beheaded. There are a few stab injuries in his abdomen, which indicate he had resisted the killer,” the officer said.

The body was discovered early this morning by farmers going to their fields. They, however, could not recall having heard any commotion last night.

When a team led by Roy reached Choa this morning, several villagers demanded the police bring along sniffer dogs. “We demanded that sniffer dogs be brought in. We think they would have helped the police trace the killer,” Mrinal Biswas, a farmer, said.

However, an officer said the police had already found some clues which might help them catch the killer in a couple of days.

“We have got clues but we will disclose them only at proper time. We have interrogated seven neighbours and have listed all who used to frequent Ganga’s house. We hope we will be able to crack the case in a day or two,” he said.

Ganga’s younger son Bishu, who works in another part of Hariharpur, was informed by a neighbour about the murder and lodged a complaint with the police.

“I don’t have an inkling who committed this murder. There were a number of people who used to come to meet my father. How can I say which of them committed the crime?” Bishu asked.

He, however, said his father was a worshipper of Kali and a believer in the powers of tantra. “My father was a worshipper of Kali and a believer of tantra. But I cannot understand who would want to kill him and offer his head as sacrifice to Kali,” said Bishu.