Two women and one man were found dead yesterday outside a Shiva temple in Kortikota village of Anantpur district in Andhra Pradesh. Unconfirmed reports suggest the three were murdered on Sunday night and may have been involved in a tantric ritual since their blood was found inside the temple as well.
Local reports suggest the three may have been murdered in search of hidden treasure. Police have, however, denied any such speculation.
The women have been identified as Satyalakshmi and Kamalamma, while the male victim is believed to Sivarami Reddy. All three are between 50 and 55 years old. Kamalamma was Sivarami Reddy's sister and Satyalakshmi, a village native who belonged to the Vysya caste, was visiting from Bengaluru.
All three had their throats slit.
Police inspector Mansuruddin told NDTV the motive behind the grisly murders was as yet unclear. He also confirmed the presence of blood inside the temple but cautioned that it may be an attempt to throw investigators off the trail.
"It is not even a 6 ft by 6 ft temple, very small. No history of human sacrifice here. Besides, there was no evidence of any kind of puja or ritual, like turmeric or vermillion or holy ash, flowers or 'muggu' (a form of Rangoli from South India)," he said.
"Most important, usually in human sacrifice, we see young boys or girls being used. Not such elderly people,'' he added.
The police have also ruled out murder for financial gain as a possible motive, since 10 tolas (approximately 100 grams) of gold ornaments were found on one of the female victim's body.
"If someone was looking for a treasure, they would have at least taken away her gold,'' the police said.
A case has been registered under the relevant section of the IPC and investigations are ongoing.
The village of Kortikota is notorious for violence between local political factions, with enmities between groups often spilling across generations.