BANGALORE: Six persons, who went in search of hidden treasure believed to have belonged to ancient rulers, were found dead in a 30 foot-deep open well in Arkavathi Layout near Amrithahalli here on Tuesday.
Based on the statement of Kalavathi (38), the seventh member of the group, the police suspect that the victims were part of a bizarre ritual murder masterminded by a so-called tantrik in his quest to retrieve hidden treasure on the land near the well.
He apparently sacrificed the six to appease the deity Kalimatha who he believed would help him find the treasure.
The victims, residents of Amrithahalli near Hebbal, were identified as Anand (30), his wife Radhakka (24), his daughters Sneha (3), one-year-old Chinnu, his neighbours Shwetha (13), an 8th standard student of Amrithhalli Government High School, and Mahalakshmi (21), an employee of a garment factory.
Their bodies were fished out of the Sahukar Bhavi in Arkavathi Layout on Tuesday afternoon.
The murders were committed between 8.30 p.m. and 11.45 p.m. on Monday and came to light on Tuesday.
The police are on the look out for the tantrik.
According to Basavaraja Malagathi, Deputy Commissioner of Police (North East Division), Anand may have lured the five women to the well under the cover of darkness and pushed them in. Later, fearing reprisal, he possibly committed suicide by jumping into the well.
Anand was a bangle-seller from Mysore, who moved to Amrithahalli last year.
A few months ago, he apparently came in contact with the tantrik who convinced him that the ancient rulers of Bangalore had hidden a huge treasure in farmland at Arkavathi and Amrithahalli.
“Shwetha was the daughter of Kalavathi, and Mahalakshmi daughter of Narayanappa, a retired employee of Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike. Anand led the six, including three children and Kalavathi, to the well. However, he later told Kalavathi to stay away and not come to the puja, which he performed near the well before committing the crime,” the Deputy Commissioner of Police told The Hindu.
“Anand was bankrupt and borrowed Rs. 1.5 lakh from moneylenders. This may have instigated him to sacrifice the women for hidden treasure,” he said
Villagers of Amrithahalli still believe in the hidden treasure.
“The region was ruled by many people. I have come across others who have found such treasures hidden by Tipu and Magadi Kempe Gowda,” Sarvamangala Mahadev, a postal employee, said.
In her statement to the police, Kalavathi said: “The tantrik called Anand many times and told him that a puja had to be performed to retrieve the treasure. On Monday evening, he told my daughter and myself to join them in the puja and promised us gifts.”
According to her, the group reached the well around 8.45 p.m.
“The tantrik wanted panchakanyas for the puja, a married woman, two young women and two girls. As we were seven, Anand asked me to wait away from the puja site. The puja began around 8.30 p.m. and went on till 11.45 p.m. When they did not turn up even after that, I returned thinking they would follow.”
On Tuesday, Kalavathi informed Narayanappa of what happened.
They went to the well and discovered the bodies.