4 Jan 2011

Indian police not ruling out child sacrifice motive in case of 5 year old girl abducted and beaten by 60 year old man

NDTV - New Delhi, India October 10, 2010

Mumbai: 60-yr-old man abducts girl for 'sacrifice'

by Sunchika Pandey, DNA

Mumbai: According to police officials, a five-year-old girl from Mumbai's Tulsiwadi was kidnapped by a 60-year-old man, allegedly for sacrifice in connection with Navratri.

Bharat Kanji Sondarva, said to be a 'guruji' of a religious sect known as the Hindu Meghwal, had set out with some 150 devotees from Tulsiwadi (near Mumbai Central) for Hadmasiya village in Gujarat to attend the Palanpir mela. The entire group reached Hadmasiya on October 1 and stayed in the village dharamshala.

The next day, they were joined by an old man who introduced himself to the group as Govind. Since he was old and alone, Sondarva's family took care of his meals for the next few days. "We felt sorry for the poor old man, so we decided to include him in our group," said Sondarva.

On October 4, when the family was offering prayers at the temple, Sondarva realised that his daughter, Riti, was missing. "We hired 50 motorbikes from the locals and began to search. We spread out across Kutch, Bhuj, Ahmedabad and Rajkot. But nobody suspected the old man as he seemed helpless. We were also worried as Riti has Thallessimia."

After searching for two days, a breakthrough came when a villager in Morbi village, 15km from Hadmasiya, told them they had seen an old man with a little girl.

"We alerted the search group and scoured every nook and corner of the area. Eventually, we spotted the old man in a park with his eyes shut, chanting mantras. He had completely changed her attire, and dressed her up in banjara clothes, so that nobody could recognise her. He had also tied an amulet round her neck," said Sondarva.

When he grabbed the old man and asked him why he had kidnapped his daughter, the latter claimed memory loss, and wouldn't reveal anything beyond stating that he had been asked to kidnap the girl.

"We found a diary on him, in which he had scribbled dates and the places he had been to with my daughter. It's Navratri time and I feel that the motive could only have been some form of black magic," said Sondarva's relative Kanti Soliya, 36. "The girl has been very quiet since we got her back. She is quite traumatised. Apparently, she was beaten up every time she cried," added Soliya.

The family handed over the man to the police in Tankara, near Rajkot. "Given the circumstances in which the child was found, and the fact that it is Navratri, we are not ruling out child sacrifice as a motive," said sub-inspector TK Gajjar of Tankara police station.

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