By the time the police reached the spot on a complaint from the couple's son, it was too late. The couple had 80 per cent burns and lived long enough only to reach the hospital. K Sudhakar, 56, and his wife Rajeshwari, 52, died soon after.
The incident took place at a village in Dubbaka 117 km from the state capital Hyderabad.
The police say the two were dragged out of their home by five people including Sudhakar's brother and thrashed, accusing them of practising black magic. Their children pleaded with her uncle and others to let their parents go, promising to leave the village for good. But they showed no mercy. The screaming couple were tied to an electric pole a few metres away, kerosene poured on them and set on fire.
About 30 villagers had gathered around them by this time but the police said nobody helped.
The police said Sudhakar and his brother had a long-running dispute and they are probing if the brother used the black magic accusation to incite others.
Between 2000 and 2012, over 350 people have been killed in Andhra Pradesh before two states were carved out - Andhra Pradesh and Telangana - on suspicions that the victims were involved in witchcraft. During the same period, witchcraft was the motive for nearly 2,000 murders across the country.
In 2015, according to statistics compiled by the National Crime Records Bureau, 135 people were killed. Of these, 14 were in Telangana.
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