Police on Wednesday recovered decapitated bodies of three people of the same family from a forested area in Jharkhand’s tribal dominated Khunti district who were allegedly abducted more than three weeks ago and killed for practising witchcraft.
Police said the heads of the deceased were recovered from another isolated location near the spot and the bodies were sent for postmortem.
The deceased were identified as Birsa Munda, 48, his wife Sukru Purty, 43, and daughter Somwari Purty, 20, of Kuda village under Saiko police station.
Police have arrested three of the nine suspects from the same village from where the trio went missing on October 7 .
“The beheaded bodies were recovered from a pit near Raba rivulet in a nearby forested area. Some villagers reportedly abducted the trio about 23 days ago after accusing them of practising witchcraft. We have arrested three people Soma Munda, Raghu Munda and Bishram Munda of the same village. The accused have confessed their complicity in the crime,” said Khunti superintendent of police Ashutosh Shekhar.
He added that a manhunt has been launched to arrest other suspects including a local quack.
The disappearance of the trio came to light on October 12 when Telani, a married daughter of the couple lodged a complaint with the police about her missing parents and younger sister, police said.
She said that she along with her husband visited her parents’ house on October 8 but found the doors ajar. She said that none of the three members were at home.
Telani said that she inquired about their whereabouts from neighbours but to no avail. After searching them at every possible location, she finally approached the police on October 12. She raised suspicion against a few villagers who allegedly abducted the trio due to some land dispute.
Police said an initial search launched with dog squads failed to trace the abducted persons.
Sources said that a woman of the same village had delivered a baby earlier this month but the infant died after a few days. A local quack informed the family that the death of the baby was due to witchcraft practiced by the deceased Birsa Munda’s family.
Munda, his wife and daughter were found missing shortly after this.