A nine-year-old boy was kidnapped and decapitated as part of a "human sacrifice" ritual in Dadra and Nagar Haveli district of the Union Territory and his body was chopped into pieces, police said on Wednesday.
Police arrested two men and detained a teenage boy last week after the headless body of the boy, belonging to a tribal community, was found in the Damanganga canal near Vapi town in Valsad district of neighbouring Gujarat.
The boy went missing from Sayli village in the Dadra and Nagar Haveli (DNH) district of the UT on December 29 last year, following which a case of kidnapping was registered at the Silvassa police station on December 30, police said in a release.
While multiple teams were found to trace the boy, a headless body matching his description was found at Vapi, located around 30 km away from Silvassa, the headquarters of the DNH district, police said.
While the body was found in a canal in Vapi, parts of the body, suspected to be of the victim, were found in Sayli village where the ritual was performed, an official said. The body parts have been sent for forensic examination, he added.
"The investigation led the police to a juvenile. He revealed he had kidnapped the victim on December 29, 2022, from Sayli village and murdered him as a human sacrifice with the help of his accomplice," the police said.
After detaining the juvenile, police added sections 302 (Punishment for murder), 201 (causing disappearance of evidence), and 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code to the FIR.
Police also recovered weapons used in the crime.
The detained boy disclosed that his friend Shailesh Kohkera (28) had helped him in killing the victim, police said.
"He said one Ramesh Sanwar was also part of the conspiracy. Sanwar prompted the detainee and Shailesh Kohkera to perform a human sacrifice ritual in the hope of gaining monetary benefits," the release said.
Subsequently, Kohkera and Sanvar were traced and arrested on January 3.
Police said the juvenile worked as a butcher in a chicken shop in Sayli village. He is a native of Karjan village in Kaprada taluka of Tapi district in Gujarat.
He has been sent to the observation home at Surat and further investigation is underway.
A team of 100 police personnel was formed and assigned different tasks to crack the case after the headless body was found at Vapi, police said.
Teams of police personnel from Daman and home guards analysed CCTV footages, and questioned residents in the village besides shopkeepers and industrial workers to gather leads. Mobile call records were analysed and areas near the village and the canal were searched, police said.
Meanwhile, the BJP Scheduled Tribe (ST) Morcha in the UT has submitted a memorandum to the Superintendent of Police seeking strict punishment for the accused persons.
"The deceased child belonged to the tribal Warli community. His family has no enmity with anyone. It is learnt that the innocent child was sacrificed by some culprit and a tantrik. This incident is disgusting and inhuman and a very serious crime.
"We demand a fair investigation and action by arresting all those involved in the crime. Police should take appropriate and quick action in all ways so that the accused persons get the harshest punishment," the BJP said.