The arrest of a couple for carrying out the sacrifice of three-month-old girl to cure chronic ailments has sent shock waves across Hyderabad.

The accused, Kerukonda Rajashekar, was advised by somebody to commit a human sacrifice for curing his wife’s chronic illness, so he abducted an abandoned baby girl from the roadside in Boyaguda area on 31 January, said Rachakonda police commissioner Mahesh M Bhagwat.

Around midnight, he beheaded the girl, threw the torso and the knife into the Musi river, and performed `Kshudra Pooja (a black magic ritual) with his wife Srilatha (35) at their house in Chilukanagar with the severed head on the altar, Bhagwat said.

Later the head was kept in the south-west corner on the terrace of the house, under “the lunar eclipse light and the (light of) rising sun around 4 am” (as he had been advised), the commissioner said.

A total lunar eclipse had occurred on 31 January.

Rajashekar then left for work as usual, but his mother in-law saw the severed head around 11 am and raised an alarm. Subsequently, police were informed.

Police analysed call detail records of 122 mobile phones, questioned 45 suspects and examined footage from more than 100 CCTV cameras during the probe, Bhagwat said.

After a forensic lab report revealed that traces of blood found in Rajasekhars living room and that of the severed head found on the terrace shared the same DNA profile, police confronted him, and he confessed to the crime, the commissioner said.

His wife, Srilatha, was suffering from an ailment since last four years, and somebody had advised the couple to commit a human sacrifice (“Nar-bali”) of a girl child to rid the woman of “evil spirits”, he told police.

Rajashekar decided to look for an abandoned child for the human sacrifice since, the child’s absence would not have been noticed, the commissioner said.

A case of murder, kidnapping and other relevant offences has been registered against the couple under the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

(with agency inputs)