Two lives in Kerala ‘human sacrifice’: one left a trail of tears, the other of hope

IT WAS a June evening. In a lonely house, surrounded by wild bushes and the shadows of trees, a horrible scene took place. A woman lay tied to a bed, her limbs tied, her mouth plastered shut. What followed next was what no one really wants to talk about. But at the end of it all – the police described it as extreme torture and mutilation in the name of ritual – Rosli’s story came to an abrupt end.

The 49-year-old from Kalady in Ernakulam was one of two victims of “human sacrifice” that took place at the home of a traditional healer in the village of Elanthoor in Pathanamthitta district. The other has been identified as Padmam, a 52-year-old from Dharmapuri in Tamil Nadu.

According to the police, they both sold lottery tickets and were lured to the home of the healer Bhagaval Singh by Muhammed Shafi, who ran an eatery in Kochi where they frequented. Police said Shafi had posed as a tantrik for the healer and his wife Laila, promising prosperity after the sacrifice – all three were arrested last week.

For Rosli, the end on June 8 meant an end to a life of despair – abandoned by her mother; later victim of domestic violence. “My mother has never had a happy moment in her life. She was orphaned by her own family… It was a series of tragedies,” says Rosli’s daughter Manju.

Padmam’s end to that bed, on September 26, broke a dream halfway through – after paying off her eldest son’s marriage loan, she worked hard to ensure her second son could marry without needing anyone’s money. to lend.

The victims Rosli and Padmam. (PTI)

“In March she took a break and came to stay with my older brother, who is a teacher in Arcot (Tamil Nadu). But she decided to go back to work in June to earn money for my marriage. She also wanted to build a second floor near our house,” said Selvaraj, Padmam’s second son, who has a cheap job at an IT company in Chennai.

Police sniffer dogs were brought in on suspicion of more victims.

Rosli disappeared in the first week of June. Her partner, Sajeesh, told police that she had been living with him for the past seven years in a rented house in Kalady in Ernakulam. He also said that she had gone to meet her relatives in Kottayam.

On July 26, Rosli’s daughter Manju, who had moved to Thrissur with her second husband and son in March, went with Sajeesh to Kalady Police Station and complained that her mother was missing. The police were able to track down the case as they followed Padmam’s trail to that remote home in Elanthoor.

Police searched the area with sniffer dogs

According to Manju, Rosli’s mother Rosamma belonged to a “well-established” Christian family in Alappuzha. “My grandmother became pregnant with my mother at the age of 17, before her marriage. Shortly after, she was married off to a person in Idukki. My mother, then a little girl, was left with relatives in Alappuzha and Kottayam. She was abandoned and grew up in those relatives’ homes, taking care of their children and doing housework. She never went to school,” says Manju.

According to her, at the age of 17, Rosli was married to a farm worker, Sunny Varghese, from Idukki. “She was a victim of domestic violence. Sunny was an alcoholic and didn’t care about me or my older brother Sanju. About 20 years ago my mother ran away. There was no divorce, she just took me and left. We moved to Kochi where she worked as a home nurse. I stayed in different hostels and continued my studies,” says Manju.

Rosli worked as a domestic helper and home nurse, commuting from one house to another. “She also kept moving from one rented property to another depending on the job,” says Sajeesh.

Healer and masseur Bhagaval Singh (left), his wife Laila (right), were arrested in connection with the murder of two missing women. (File)

Manju, meanwhile, obtained a B.Ed in computer science and entered a school in UP as a teacher seven years ago. “Rosli was alone. I lived near her rented house in Kalady at the time. Then we got close,” says Sajeesh, a bricklayer. Once, when Rosli was hospitalized, Sajeesh was the bystander. “She had no one else… Soon we moved in together,” he says.

However, according to Manju, Rosli’s “problems” didn’t stop there. “He (Sajeesh) wouldn’t allow her to talk to anyone, not even me on the phone. He would insist that my mother turn off her cell phone. My mother complained to the local police about his torture. But each time a compromise was reached,” she says.

Sajeesh admits that “there were problems” but claimed that “incidents like this were common” in a relationship. “She left the house on June 8… A day later I tried to contact her but her phone was turned off… I didn’t know any of her relatives in Kottayam and her daughter refused to talk to me.” he says. .

Sajeesh and Manju claim they didn’t know Rosli sold lottery tickets – she told them she “sold health care products at home”. “The last time I was with her for two months this year… as always, she complained about her life. Just months before she went missing, she told me that if she’d had a father, her life would have been different,” Manju said.

More than 300 km north of Thrissur is Dharmapuri, from where Padmam started working 15 years ago for her two sons and husband, a day laborer until he was confined to their house due to his age. “My mother started working for a salary of Rs 150 a day,” Selvaraj recalls.

“She used to stay in a single room in a lodge where migrant workers from Tamil Nadu lived. Her sister Palani Amma is also a worker… My mother started selling lottery tickets in the last six months when there was no demand for workers,” he says by telephone from Ernakulam, where he contacted his older brother Settu and aunt. collect the remains of Padma.

“She checked on me every day before going to sleep,” Selvaraj says. Now all he wants is for her remains to be transferred. “My father is waiting at home.”

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