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Page last updated at 06:31 GMT, Friday, 16 April 2010 07:31 UK

India 'human sacrifice' suspected in West Bengal temple

By Subir Bhaumik
BBC News, Calcutta

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The severed head and torso of a man has been found in a temple in the Indian state of West Bengal in what the police say is a case of "human sacrifice".

The head and the body were found at the local temple to the goddess Kali near Chotomakdampur village in the western district of Birbhum.

Police say they have detained a tribal villager for questioning.

Human sacrifice is illegal in India. But a few cases do occur in remote and underdeveloped regions.

"This man has been sacrificed to propitiate the gods," said local official Kalyan Mukherjee.

"This is a shame for Bengal where the ruling Left coalition claim they have eradicated social evils and combated superstition," an opposition leader Samir Kumar Ray said.

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



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