Cannibalism News Kerala: bodies cut up, possibly eaten

Indian media is consumed with news that Kochi City Police in the Indian state of Kerala are investigating whether the accused in a human sacrifice case “cooked and ate the flesh of the victims”.

City Police Commissioner C H Nagaraju said the police are still collecting evidence. He told a press conference on Wednesday 12 October 2022:

“There’s some information that the accused ate parts of the body after killing the victims. It is being investigated. We have to conduct DNA analysis and other scientific examinations.”

Three people were arrested the day before in connection with the murder of two women in Elanthoor ­— Padmam (52) a native of Tamil Nadu, and Rosily Varghese (50) a native of Thrissur.

Those arrested were Muhammad Shafi (52), a native of Perumbavoor who is currently residing in Kochi, and a couple — Bhagaval Singh (68) of Elanthoor and his wife Laila (59).

Bhagaval Singh and his wife Laila ran a massage centre at Elanthoor in Pathanamthitta district. Shafi is alleged to have brought the two women to the couple’s home in June and September, where they were brutally murdered by the couple.

The remand report filed at the Judicial First Class Magistrate court confirmed that human sacrifices for prosperity were the reason for both murders. Occult killings have become a recurrent theme in Indian criminal typology, much like serial killers in the USA or narco-cults in Mexico.

“Mohammed Shafi proposed that consumption of human sacrifices would ensure economic prosperity.”

The Ernakulam Judicial First Class Magistrate Court on Wednesday remanded all three accused to judicial custody. The police said they will approach the court seeking custody of the accused for 12 days to initiate further inquiry and collect evidence.

Commissioner C H Nagaraju said that the first accused, Shafi (aka Rasheed), is a “sexual pervert”, as there were sadistic injuries found on the private parts of the victims. “He is a hardcore criminal, a psychopath. We are investigating whether there are more accused and if more such cases happened,” the commissioner said.

“In 2020, Shafi raped a 75-year-old woman and inflicted grievous injuries on her private parts as well. This indicates sexual perversion and psychopathic behaviour.”

Padmam, who was living in a rented room in Elamkulam and selling lottery tickets, was picked up from near Krishna Hospital in Kochi, at around 10.15am on September 26. Police recovered a clip from CCTV footage in which Padmam was seen getting into Shafi’s car. She was offered Rs 15,000 by Shafi, according to the remand report. The two reached the house of Bhagaval Singh and Laila at Elanthoor around 4 pm the same day. The remand report says,

“At the bedroom located in the central part of the house, Padmam demanded money from the accused persons. Following the argument on it, they strangulated Padmam using a plastic rope. When Padmam became unconscious, she was shifted to another bedroom on the western side of the house. Shafi inflicted injuries on Padmam’s private parts with a knife and then slashed her throat, which led to her death. Later, all accused persons cut Padmam into 56 pieces using a cleaver and knives. These parts were collected in a bucket and dumped at a pit which was dug up in the compound of the house at the northern side.”

In the interrogation, the accused person reportedly confessed to a similar human sacrifice carried out in June 2022. The other victim, Rosily Varghese of Ashokapuram, Aluva, was taken to the couple’s house at Elanthoor and was reportedly offered Rs 10 lakhs for acting in a movie.

“Rosily’s hands and legs were tied to the bed in a room in the centre of the house. A piece of cloth was inserted into her mouth which was also taped with plaster. She was stabbed by Shafi and her throat was slashed. Later, her private parts were cut and preserved. The accused persons then cut up her body into several pieces and collected them in a bucket. The body parts were later dumped in a pit dug at the eastern part of the house.”

The Hindustan Times reported that police were using cadaver-sniffing dogs and digging at Shafi’s property to determine if there were any more victims buried there.

The couple allegedly admitted to consuming the victims’ flesh after each murder.

When asked if the accused persons cooked and ate the body parts of the two women, the Kochi Police Commissioner said:

“For human cannibalism to be proved there has to be a proper examination.”

It is reported that Shafi reacted with a smile when police asked whether he had eaten the flesh of the murdered women.

Sources in the investigation team disclosed that many internal organs from the two bodies were not found. “There were no lungs, livers, kidneys in the bodies of Roseli and Padma, the women who were sacrificed as part of the ritual,” said a member of the investigating team. The post mortem reports say that the dead bodies had been cut by a person familiar with human anatomy. Though Shafi conceded that he had worked as a mortuary assistant and was versed in handling dead bodies, the police have not ruled out the possibility of an outsider in the “mission”.

Yet another factor that concerns police is the revelation by the husband-wife team of Bhagwal and Laila that Shafi had assured them that the victims’ flesh could be sold, authorities claimed. Shafi allegedly told Singh and Laila, according to IANS,

“Some people who do certain [types of worship] eat human flesh.”

The flesh could net the couple up to Rs 20 lakh ($US24,280), and a buyer was already on their way to pick all of it up, Shafi claimed, according to investigating officers.

The hacked bodies were preserved in the refrigerator in the residence, where Shafi allegedly told police they had stored 10kg of human flesh. The refrigerator is stained with human blood and Shafi’s fingerprints were found on it. The investigators also came across a pressure cooker that apparently had been used to cook the flesh.

Reports are going around Kochi that Shafi may have sold cooked human flesh through the eatery owned by him in Ernakulam.

Animal sacrifices were carried out in Kerala until banned in the 1920s. Manu Pillai’s book Ivory Throne indicates that humans were at one time among the animals sacrificed, and that that human sacrifice used to be performed at the Panayannarkavu Devi Temple near Mannar.

Kerala Higher Education and Social Justice Minister Dr R Bindu said that the disturbing incident of human sacrifice was the result of “the frustration caused by globalisation.”

“People are falling into traps as they desperately try to make a quick buck as a result of globalization. In such a situation, some people are easily duped by false illusions that human sacrifices can bring them wealth.”

As the forces of neo-liberal capitalism turn us all into voracious consumers and simultaneously raw materials for commodification, it should not be surprising that the sacrifice and consumption of other animals for food, leather, experimentation or other uses is expanding into the sacrifice and consumption of human ones.

There is a comprehensive report on this case on NDTV, including a long interview with the Kochi Police Commissioner:

Is “true crime” really “true”? INDIAN PREDATOR: DIARY OF A SERIAL KILLER (Netflix, September 2022)

The world is so full of misinformation, disinformation and straight-out lies that it is not surprising that audiences crave some truth, and podcasts and documentaries investigating “true crimes” have become enormously popular.

The first series of Indian Predator, “The Butcher of Delhi” was screened earlier this year, and this new one, “Diary of a Serial Killer” involves a confessed cannibal, so of course The Cannibal Guy had to take a look. But did he kill all those people, and even if he did, did he also eat their brains? Truth is often the first victim of cannibalism.

Raja Kolander, real name Ram Niranjan, the husband of a local politician, was suspected of murdering a journalist in Allahabad in 2000. Dhirendra Singh was a reporter with a Hindi daily newspaper called Aaj, and his body was mutilated and discarded in a river and a jungle. His head and genitals had been removed.

Police tracked the journalist’s phone records and found a call to the suspect, Raja Kolander. Kolander and his brother-in-law were arrested, beaten up, and finally confessed to the murder of the journalist. The police claimed that the murder was to stop Singh reporting on their car-theft business. But during the subsequent investigation, officers found Kolander’s diary, which listed some fourteen victims in total, including that journalist.

Although he was arrested in 2001, Kolander was not charged with the murder for a decade. During his trial in 2012, the police testified that he had admitted to cannibalism, and to burying fourteen skulls in his home. Kolander, his brother-in-law and his wife were all given life sentences for three murders, although he has appealed those convictions. Claims of cannibalism were never proven, nor were the other eleven murders, and some of those interviewed say that a few of those so-called “victims” are still wandering around. There is also mention made that the “mining mafia” had it in for Dhirendra Singh for exposing some of their corrupt practices, but this is not really explored further in the documentary. We are told, however, that Uttar Pradesh is ranked top in number of murders in all of India.

The first episode interviews the police and family of the journalist, and presents fairly damning evidence of murder. But then, some of it is just silly, such as the chief investigator saying that criminals “stutter when faced with the police.”

The evidence against Kolander is presented as it was laid out by the police, and the events shown in the documentary are just recreations of the official version, with actors playing the main characters. How legit those are is a good question, as there are several mentions of duress during the police interrogation.

The police claim that Kolander was motivated by power, and sought to acquire it by cannibalism. One victim was from the Lala sub-caste. They are considered smart, even cunning, and often accused of taking advantage of the poor. The police claim that Kolander believed he could imbibe this cleverness through cannibalism, and so this victim was killed and Kolander then removed his brain:

Then drank it as a stew. Another victim claimed to be a hypnotist, and so his brain was consumed in the hope of gaining that skill. As the investigator asks

A question to which I, for one, urgently need an answer.

Kolander then allegedly cut open a Brahmin, a member of a caste known to eat well, to see if they have larger intestines than other people. He then had to cut open a lower caste person to compare. The results were apparently disappointing. We are all equal, at least in the width of our intestines.

The second and third episodes interview Kolander in jail, another decade after the trial. He maintains that he is innocent of the murders that took place some twenty years before. He insists that he is a victim of trial by media.

The question of why his supposed thirteen other crimes went without investigation until a respected journalist was killed sheds some interesting light on the social and caste divisions in Indian society. Like Albert Fish, who in 1920s New York preferred to kill and eat black children since he knew the police would not work too hard to look for them, the racist attitudes in India to other classes, religions, and communities seem to have resulted in not much work being done on finding the earlier victims.

But Kolander himself comes from a caste which is largely impoverished, and the times were ripe for revolt by the subaltern castes – there were dacoits (bandits) roaming the countryside, and lower castes were fighting to be represented in government of all levels. It is clear that Kolander’s caste, the Kol, were considered by the upper castes to be primitive savages, recently driven from the jungles by deforestation into the life of subsistence farming, but retaining their savage traditions. It was inconceivable to them that a person from this background could own two cars, as the police claimed.

Kolander insists that he is a highly spiritual Hindu, not concerned with worldly power, and even claims to be a vegetarian, which would make eating brains tricky, although others (including his daughter) cast doubt on that. But it is certainly true that the colonial story has embraced accusations of cannibalism since Columbus – those who are poor and deprived must be savages, eaters of human flesh. Nothing they do is therefore surprising, and anything they are accused of is probably true.

Is this “true crime” documentary true? It’s impossible to know. But there are lot of holes in the story, including the fact that police brutality seems to be a standard interrogation technique, the fact that it took a decade to bring him to trial and, after another decade, his conviction (for three murders, not fourteen) is still to be decided. Also, the charges of cannibalism, which kind of make this newsworthy, were never proven in a court of law. Kolander, with some justification, says that his case was tried not in court but in the media, which published pretty much any sensational story they could dream up.

Cannibalism is perhaps the perfect exemplar of the uncanny – Freud wrote that we are most disquieted by the familiar suddenly becoming strange (remember Jeffrey Dahmer’s step-mother Shari saying he was “a nice, kind boy”) and things that should be hidden instead being revealed (e.g. the Brahmin’s intestines). But the impossibility of determining the truth is in itself uncanny, even more disquieting because our certainties about truth and lies are torn apart. A few cannibals sit down and tell their stories (Dahmer did, and so did Meiwes and Sagawa), but often the cannibal either disappears into the night like Jack the Ripper or suicides like Chase or is executed like Chikatilo. Seeing the bodies, or what’s left of them, but never knowing what or who happened to them is uncanny, and even more so when, like Kolander, the apparent cannibal denies all culpability.

Cremation cannibalism: April 2022 News, India

Guwahati, 15 April 2022: A man has confessed to eating human meat in a crematorium in Bidyapur, in Assam’s Bongaigaon district. The man, identified as Satish Chandra Rai, is a resident of Bongaigaon.

Villagers reported that they had seen the man taking portions of a dead body at a local Hindu cremation ground and later saw him eating them. The villagers caught the man and have handed him over to police.

Satish allegedly admitted to being inebriated, and consuming half of the body’s meat. The dead body had been consigned to the flames, but not completely burnt, as the man was able to find edible flesh still attached.

Police have arrested the man, and are interrogating him at the police station.  Locals are now demanding that he be ousted from the village by the village council.

Like other places, cannibalism happens in India, even though it is a largely vegetarian country.

In 2020, a blind couple in Uttar Pradesh’s Kanpur district allegedly had a seven-year-old girl killed so they could eat her organs.

In 2017, Sunil Rama Kuchkoravi of Kolhapur murdered his mother after she refused to give him money to buy liquor. He later chopped up parts of her body and ate them, after frying them in a pan.

A (supposedly) forthcoming movie called A CANNIBAL MIND follows the life of Raja Ram Mohan, who allegedly murdered, mutilated and ate the brains of over 40 victims.

Back in Assam, in 2012 tea workers killed the owner of the plantation where they worked and allegedly ate his flesh.

It can happen anywhere and, as our alleged drunk has shown us, human meat is pretty much the same as any other animal’s flesh. Particularly when cooked.