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: