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Last Updated:  Thursday, 27 March, 2003, 13:53 GMT
Priest 'makes human sacrifice'
Mahesh Pandey
BBC correspondent in Bhopal

Police have arrested a village priest in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh for allegedly carrying out a human sacrifice.

The priest, Chandrabhan Singh Lodhi, is accused of sacrificing a low caste Hindu, or Dalit, to please the village goddess in Parsari village of Sagar district.

Human sacrifice is illegal in India.

But a few cases do come to light in socially and economically-backward regions.

Head cut off

According to the police the priest, Chandrbhan Singh Lodhi, and the man he sacrificed, Alam Ahrirwar, had been searching for hidden treasure for a long time.

Lodhi told the police that on Saturday that the two had performed a lengthy ritual to appease the local goddess.

As Alam Ahirwar bowed his head to pay his respect to the deity, Lodhi cut his head off with a sword, the police say - all in the hope of discovering the hidden treasure.

Mr Ahirwar's body was later recovered from a railway track.

Police have registered a case of murder against Lodhi under the Indian Penal Code.

Reports say 55-years-old, Ahirwar, was a regular visitor to the temple and Lodhi often performed black magic on him.

He is believed to have told his family members not to tell anyone his whereabouts, before he left for the temple on Saturday.

Though human sacrifice has long been banned in India, some people, mostly the poor and illiterate - fall under the influence of witch doctors and black magicians in the hope of reversing their fortunes.

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