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Three burnt to death by Indian mob over human sacrifice rumours

Three members of an Indian family burnt to death after a mob locked them in their house and set it on fire following rumours of their involvement in human sacrifices.

NEW DELHI // Three members of an Indian family burnt to death after a mob locked them in their house and set it on fire following rumours of their involvement in human sacrifices, police said Tuesday.

Ten men have been arrested over the incident on Sunday in Jharkhand when hundreds of villagers armed with sticks and other sharp weapons targeted the family, an officer said.

“There was a rumour that they had kidnapped children for sacrifice, which was followed by an attack,” Kartik S, police chief of Lohardaga district where the incident happened, said.

Five other family members were rescued from the burning house in Lohardaga, 75 kilometres from the eastern state’s capital Ranchi.

Mr Kartik said the head of the family, Gowardhan Bhagat, had been accused of being a sorcerer.

According to media reports, Bhagat had been jailed many years ago, allegedly for beheading someone, fuelling fears of his involvement in ritual killings.

“We don’t have any evidence that he kidnapped children for sacrifice now,” Mr Kartik said, adding that police were investigating if the attack was orchestrated because of a personal grudge against Bhagat.

Some 2,097 people, mostly women, were killed in India between 2000 to 2012 after being accused of witchcraft, according to the National Crime Records Bureau.

Some states including Jharkhand have introduced special laws to try to curb crimes against people accused of witchcraft.

There are also occasional reports of human sacrifices in rural and remote areas.

On Monday, Delhi police rescued a kidnapped four-month-old girl and arrested three men including the infant’s uncle who had allegedly sold her to a sorcerer for sacrifice.

A suspected occultist last year beheaded a five-year-old boy in a ritual sacrifice in northeastern India before being lynched by villagers.

* Agence France-Presse

Updated: April 19, 2016 04:00 AM

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