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Guwahati: Five persons, two of them from Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, were arrested for allegedly beheading a woman for human sacrifice at Kamakhya Temple here a few days before the Ambubachi Mela about four years ago, police said on Tuesday.

Giving the chilling details of the incident, Guwahati Police Commissioner Diganta Bora said the beheaded body of a 64-year-old woman was found covered with a blanket on the staircase of the Joy Durga Mandir in the precincts of the Kamakhya Temple on June 19, 2019 hours after she was killed.

A suo moto case was registered at Jalukbari police station in the city and investigation was launched but was delayed due to lack of clues in the beginning.

It was later found that the woman had come from West Bengal along with a sadhu and two other women to attend the annual Ambubachi mela and had gone missing since then, he said.

Kamakhya Temple is a Shakti Peeth and is one of the oldest and most revered centers of Tantrik practices. The Ambubachi mela is held in the temple every year.

The body was identified over a month later by her son, a resident of Bengal’s Hooghly district. He came to Jalukbari police station after coming to know of the finding of the body through media reports. He identified his mother on the basis of clothes on the body and tattoos, Borah said.

The case was recently reviewed and a special team of Assam Police was entrusted to carry out further investigation, the police commssioner said. The team analysed the technical evidences collected earlier and based on them went to Coochbehar in West Bengal and recovered the victim’s mobile handset, clothes and Aadhar card from the house of a person.

On being interrogated, the person said that the bag with these objects were left in his house reportedly by a sadhu named Mata Prasad Pandey who used to visit the area for several years during the months of June and July, Borah said.

Further investigation led to the arrest of Pandey alias Mateswari Giri from Jabalpur in Madhya Pradesh on March 25 this year. After questioning him three others were arrested from Bhootnath crematorium here for allegedly beheading the woman as an offering to the goddess Kali a few days before the Ambubachi Mela, the police commissioner said.

Borah said the woman and four men had first performed Kapali puja, a tantrik practice, on the intervening night of June 18-19 in 2019 first at the crematorium where all of them consumed alcohol. They then went to Joy Durga Mandir, where after another round of puja the woman was beheaded with an axe. The victim’s head was taken in a packet by the men and disposed in Brahmaputra river, he said.

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Borah said during investigation it was found that the puja was sponsored by a person named Pradeep Pathak alias Dinesh for his younger brother, who was a Naga sadhu and had died 11 years ago on the same day.

Pathak was subsequently arrested from his residence in Mathura on April 1, 2023.

Another sadhu who had allegedly accompanied him to Assam is still absconding and search is on to apprehend him, Borah said.

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