A Nepalese man has confessed to the murder of a young boy after claiming a shaman advised him that a human sacrifice would heal his ailing son, local police said.
The body of 10-year-old Jivan Kohar was found on July 24 on the outskirts of the Kudiya village, in southwest Nepal. The child had gone missing three days earlier.
Police superintendent Nal Prasad Upadhyaya, who headed up the investigation, told CNN Monday that Kodai Harijan admitted committing the gruesome crime with his relatives after consulting the shaman. In some cultures, shamans are believed to have magical or spiritual powers to cure the sick.
According to testimony given to police, Harijan and his relatives found the child playing with friends in the village and lured him away by giving him a pack of biscuits and promising him 50 rupees (49 cents).
The boy was taken to a temple on the outskirts of the village where they performed a religious ritual. He was then taken to a field nearby where three people held him down as another slit his throat. When police found him, the boy’s head was almost severed from his body completely.
Eleven people in total, including the shaman, have been arrested for their involvement, with the perpetrators facing a life sentence. At least five have confessed to their part in the killing.
The village, in the Nawalparasi district bordering India, is home to some of the country’s poorest and uneducated people — often known as “untouchables” in the traditional caste system. Both the victim and the accused in this recent killing are from this social class.
Superstitions such as the sacrificial slaughter of animals such as water buffaloes, goats and chickens are common among the country’s mainly Hindu population. The ritual killing of animals during the Gadhimai festival — celebrated every five years — takes place in the belief it will bring prosperity.
“[It’s] very unfortunate what happened,” said Hari Prasad Mainai, Nawalparasi’s chief district officer.
“From the government level, we are going to launch (an) awareness program against these superstitions in the villages of Nawalparasi district.”