Two men have been arrested following the death of a 7-year-old girl after officials say her liver was sacrificed for an improved harvest.
Police found the dismembered body of 7-year-old Lalita Tati, a week after she was reported kidnapped, while walking home from a friend’s house in October.
“The two men confessed to cutting her open and removing her liver as an offering,” police said according to AP.
The men were described as “tribals.” The term refers to the indigenous people of the area, who compose much of Chhattisgarh, the 10th-largest state in India.
While Chhattisgarh is an important producer of electrical power and steel, many of the indigenous people are still farmers and dependent upon the harvest.
The men arrested were both poor farmers and told officials that they had offered up the girl’s liver in an effort to appease their God in hopes of a better harvest.
According to the Human Development report in Chhattisgarh: “80 percent of the population lives in rural areas, and 78 percent of total rural households are farmers. Of those farmers, only 1.5 percent of all farmers are familiar with modern agricultural practices.”
It also reports that “Small and marginal farmers constitute the most vulnerable group amongst the cultivators. With just one crop in a year and low productivity, their land is not sufficient to sustain their households.”
Hindus compose over 94 percent of the population in Chhattisgarh and AP reported the most of the people are tribal. Gondi is the largest tribe in Central India, which takes many of its beliefs from Hinduism.
The main occupation of the Gond people is agriculture and they have a belief in a number of Gods and Goddesses. They are known on some occasions, to practice animal sacrifice as part of some religious occasions.
In a study done by Human Development villagers agreed, “We need a cultural forum. We also want to change our rigid and incorrect customs. Training, exposure and information will help us in changing such traditions.”
In March, four were charged in Chhattisgarh for sacrificing a young boy on Mahashivratri, a Hindu festival, to obtain spiritual powers.