Seven persons were sentenced to death by a Yavatmal court today in a case of human sacrifice. Additional District and Sessions Judge A S Waghmare awarded capital punishment to Manoj Atram, Devidas Atram, Yadhavrao Tekam, Punaji Atram, Ramchandra Atram, Motiram Atram and Yeshodabai Meshram. They were residents of Choramba village in Ghatanji tehsil here and were accused of “sacrificing” a 7-year-old girl in 2012. All of them were convicted under section 302 (murder) of the Indian Penal Code, apart from other offences. The court also imposed a fine of Rs 5,000 on each of them, Assistant Prosecutor Shubhangi Darne said. Durga Shirbhate, another accused, was sentenced to five years’ rigorous imprisonment for being part of the conspiracy.
As per the police, in October 2012, Shirbhate, claiming to be possessed by a goddess, said that “human blood” was needed to appease the deity and save the clan as well as the village from its wrath. The accused–some of them related to Shirbhate–then decided to ‘sacrifice’ Swapna Palaskar (7), a girl living in the same village.
On October 24, the girl was persuaded to go to the house of Yeshodabai where Ramchandra chopped off her head after a ritual.
The head and the body were buried with pooja material outside the house. One-and-half months later the girl’s remains were exhumed and reburied in another person’s field. Later the bones and skull were exhumed again, and thrown into bushes.
In the meantime, the police had registered a missing person complaint regarding the girl, the prosecutor said. During the trial, the girl’s parents, who were prosecution witnesses, turned hostile but the court relied on DNA test which confirmed that the remains recovered by the police were of Swapna, and the statements of other prosecution witnesses.