Two young women were killed allegedly by their parents inside their three-storey home in Andhra Pradesh's Chittoor district on Sunday in a bizarre and shocking crime that the police suspect was linked to occult. When the police arrived at the house, alerted by friends of the family, the parents claimed they could bring both back to life if given a day.
Alekhya (27) and Sai Divya (23) were found in red saris, lying in blood with their heads bashed in. They had been killed allegedly with a dumbbell.
The family appeared to have participated in a ritual before the murders on Sunday evening. The parents, highly educated yet extremely superstitious, allegedly believed their girls were possessed by some evil spirit. Neighbours said the girls were made to circle the house as part of the elaborate rituals.
"The scene of crime suggests some rituals were carried out; the women were clad in a red saree and the parents appeared to be highly delusional," police officer Ravi Manohara Chary told NDTV.
"There were only four people in the house, the husband, wife and their two daughters. There are CCTV cameras here, so we will analyse it. From what they are saying, they went away spiritually into another zone, they told us, give one day's time, we will bring them back to life.''
Valleru Purushottam Naidu and Padmaja, both in their 50s, have been arrested.
"Naidu is a professor of chemistry and vice-principal at the Government Girls' Degree College in Madanapalle, while Padmaja identifies herself as a gold medalist, postgraduate in mathematics, who was working at an IIT coaching institute," Mr Chary said.
Alekhya used to work at Bhopal's Indian Institute of Forest Management and had recently resigned to prepare for civil services exam. Her sister Sai Divya was a graduate and was pursuing music at a Chennai-based AR Rahman institute.
The sisters had returned home during the lockdown and no one had been allowed inside the house for months, the police said quoting neighbours. The house is worth crores; family photographs betray nothing of the horror of Sunday. In the four days before the murder, maids were also not allowed.
When the police reached the spot late last night, the parents reportedly claimed that they could revive their daughters if they were given time till tonight.
"He (the father) had called up his friend and told him about what had happened after which the police was informed and we went in. The parents insisted that magic had happened in their home and their daughters would come back to life," Mr Reddy said.
The police said they were looking at CCTV camera in the vicinity to track the movement of people in and out of the house.
Chittoor police chief Senthil Kumar said any similarities with the mass family suicide in Delhi's Burari in 2018 were limited to the fact that both were linked to a ritual.
Mr Kumar, however, said the parents were also planning suicide and may have been prevented from doing so by the arrival of the police. It is suspected that they believed they would all be resurrected and would have a better life.