Murshidabad, Nov. 15: The torso of a nine-year-old boy who had gone to a Kali puja pandal yesterday was found in a banana grove near his home in Murshidabad town this morning, fuelling suspicion that he might have been sacrificed.
Police said Subhash Mondal's head had been "cut off neatly", which suggested that he could have been sacrificed by tantriks.
Subhash, a Class IV student, was last seen by his parents a little after 4pm yesterday. "After having his meal, he left for the puja pandal near our home to play with other children," Renuka, his mother, said.
Subhash's absence went unnoticed last night as Renuka, who went to sleep at 8pm, thought that he had returned home and gone to sleep with his father as usual. Subhash's father Tarapada Mondal, a vegetable seller, said: "I thought Subhash was sleeping with his mother."
This morning, when they realised the boy was missing, Renuka and Tarapada started looking for him frantically. At 7.30am, the owner of a nearby banana grove, Sanjay Mandal, came to their home and said the beheaded body of a child was lying among the trees. "The head cannot be found," Sanjay said.
The parents rushed to the spot and identified the body as Subhash's from the clothes.
The police noted that the ground around the body was soaked with the boy's blood. A clump of blood-soaked mud was missing and a plastic bag was lying next to the body.
A sniffer dog was brought to locate the head. The dog turned towards a cremation ground on the way to Jiaganj, 5km away.
District police chief C. Sudhakar said: "The initial probe suggests the involvement of tantriks. The first Saturday after Kali puja is considered the most auspicious by tantriks for carrying out sacrifices, some tantriks we questioned told us."