10-Year-Old Boy Killed By His Own Family in a Human Sacrifice Ritual

The ritualistic killing was reported in India where superstition is closely tied to religion and politics.
Pallavi Pundir
Jakarta, ID
india, superstition, black magic, human sacrifice, crime
Over 100,000 children are missing in India,  activists link a chunk of these cases to superstitious practices. Photo: Piyush Gotise / EyeEm via Getty Images

Police in India have arrested three men in connection with a murdered 10-year-old boy, who they believe was “sacrificed” in a black magic ritual. Two of the arrested men are related to the boy. 

On March 26, police found the body of Vivek Verma in the fields in Bahraich city in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. Police inquiries led to the victim’s cousin, Anoop Verma. Police said Anoop has a 2.5-year-old son who is regularly sick, adding that when medical treatment didn’t work, he went to a local black magic practitioner who suggested a child be sacrificed to improve his health. 


Prashant Verma, the Superintendent of Police of Bahraich, told media at a press conference that they’ve arrested Anoop, the black magic practitioner and a relative called Chintaram who allegedly used a spade to kill Vivek. A murder case has been registered against all three. 

There is no centralised law that directly addresses superstition and ritualistic human sacrifices in India, but each state has its own regulations.

India’s National Crime Records Bureau recorded 103 ritualistic sacrifices between 2014 and 2021. Most were sacrificed with the belief that it’ll bring prosperity, fertility or healing.

“These numbers are vastly undercounted,” Sanal Edamaruku, an Indian anti-superstition activist and the founder of Rationalist International, told VICE World News. “I believe the real number could be 10 or even 20 times more than this.” It’s also common for the victims to be family members of the accused, he added.

Edamaruku has been campaigning against human sacrifices for years and links superstitious practices to missing children data, with the official number of untraced kids in India estimated at over 100,000. Edamaruku says that many children are found with their organs missing, which point to superstitious rituals. 

“In India, there’s a big hesitance to link these crimes to superstitious beliefs,” he said. “It closely ties into religion and traditional values.”


Superstitious beliefs are deeply entrenched in many areas of Indian culture, and eradicating this influence has proved difficult. In 2015, news outlets reported allegations that one political party’s members performed black magic at a head office before it was to be occupied by members of an opposition party. 

In 2021, a couple was arrested for “sacrificing” their daughters after bludgeoning them with dumbbells as part of an occult ritual. Last year, police in the southern Indian state of Kerala, a relatively progressive state nationally in terms of literacy and employment, arrested three people for allegedly torturing and “sacrificing” two women, cooking them and eating them as part of a black magic ritual. 

In 2013, a prominent anti-superstition activist Narendra Dabholkar was shot dead because of his work, which included campaigning against human sacrifices. 

Edamaruku says that law enforcement authorities need to watch out for such incidents “the way they watch out for terrorism.” 

“This isn’t about faith,” he said. “This is a crime, and a dangerous one. People need to be made aware of this and our authorities need to detach ‘faith’ from such violations of law and order.”

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