FOUR YEARS after the headless body of a woman was found close to Guwahati’s Kamakhya Temple, the Assam police have arrested five men in what they state was a case of human sacrifice.
The body was found wrapped in a blanket on the steps of Jai Durga Temple, about a kilometre from the Kamakhya Temple. Commissioner of Police, Guwahati, Diganta Borah said the prime accused is Pradeep Pathak (52), a government employee from Uttar Pradesh’s Mathura district, who planned the killing as an “offering” to Goddess Kamakhya.
The other accused are Mataprasad Pandey (50), who was arrested from a temple in Madhya Pradesh’s Jabalpur, Suresh Paswan (56) from Guwahati, Kanu Acharjee alias Kanu Tantrik (62), who performs puja at Bhootnath cremation ground in Guwahati, and Raju Baba alias Bhaiyaram Maoreya (60), who also frequents Bhootnath. The body was found a few days before the start of Ambubachi festival, which is popular among the tantric cult and attracts devotees every year.
The body was identified as 64-year-old Santi Shaw from Hoohgly district of West Bengal who had travelled to Guwahati for the Ambubachi festival. Santi’s son Suresh Shaw identified her after he saw the news of recovery of a headless body near the temple.
The case was revisited this year as part of the Assam police’s ongoing drive to resolve cold cases. “During investigation, we found this was a case of human sacrifice to please Maa Kamakhya. Pradeep Pathak had some tantric beliefs. His brother, a naga sadhu, had died 11 years ago on June 18 and Pradeep wanted to perform a kapali puja on same day in memory of his brother,” said Borah.
According to police, Pradeep travelled with a sadhu to Guwahati for festival and met another sadhu from West Bengal who was accompanied by the victim and two other women.
“They met at Bhootnath and planned the human sacrifice. On the morning of June 18 they bought a dah (knife) and performed a pooja at midnight in the presence of 12 people, including all of those who have been arrested,” said Borah.
After the pooja, all of them consumed alcohol left in a van towards Kamakhya temple. “They went to the Jai Durga Mandir where they performed another puja and then decapitated the woman,” said Borah.