A 4-year-old girl was decapitated and her arms were severed last week in rural India as part of a black magic ritual aimed at finding a lost cell phone.
The girl went missing on October 24 in the Charaideo district of upper Assam, a mostly rural, tribal area in Northeast India, The Washington Post reported. Then last Monday her disfigured body turned up about 90 yards from her home.
The black magic priest suspected in the crime, Gul Mhammad Ali, reportedly escaped. Investigators arrested two of his assistants, Ariful Haqmulla and Hajrat Ali, his nephew.
They allegedly were working for Hanuman Bhumij and Many Bhumij, whose 14-year-old daughter had lost her cell phone. The parents reportedly knew the victim and her family. Police arrested the parents as well.
Crimes like this are not uncommon in rural India, especially among the poorer, less-educated, superstitious segments of the population. The victim and the family accused of taking part in the killing were from the Adivasis indigenous group, a much maligned, poorer demographic of Indian society.
Just this past summer, a 55-year-old man was beheaded in a rural village in what was believed to be part of a black magic ritual.
“In places where superstition and vigilantism overlap and small rumors can turn deadly, nearly 2,100 people accused of witchcraft have been killed between 2000 and 2012,” wrote the Washington Post’s Terrance McCoy in July 2014.
The 14-year-old girl was not arrested because she is a minor, the Post added.