• R Ranjitha and Ramalingam were arrested Wednesday
  • Three other adults, including sorcerer Dhanalakshmi, were also held
  • The two children are now under the care of their grandmother

A former couple, who are parents to two boys, have been arrested along with three others for allegedly conspiring to perform human sacrifice by killing the children, aged 15 and 6.

The arrest was made Wednesday in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, a week after the boys' maternal grandmother B. Bagyam (60) lodged a complaint with the police. She alleged that the children faced harrassment from her daughter R Ranjitha (37), her lesbian partner Sasi alias Dhanalakshmi, son-in-law Ramalingam (44), his new wife Indumathi (34) and a man dentified as S. Mariappan (44), reported Times of India.

According to Bagyam, her daughter did not not object to husband Ramalingam's marriage with Indumathi and all of them lived under the same roof with the two children. Almost a year ago, Dhanalakshmi, a sorcerer, was introduced to the children's parents by Indumathi.

A self-styled holy woman, the sorcerer became a frequent visitor at the house and performed strange rituals at night, dressed up as Hindu god Shiva. Soon, Ranjitha and Dhanalakshmi married each other.

The children said the women called themselves "Shivan" and "Shakthi" referring to Lord Shiva and Goddess Durga. As the children refused to believe the women's claim of being "Shivan" and "Shakthi," Ranjitha and Dhanalakshmi punished them harshly.

In February, Dhanalakshmi reportedly convinced Ramalingam and Ranjitha to sacrifice their younger child in order to gain "enormous power." The older child overheard the conversation about the plan and told their grandmother about it.

The grandmother went to the parents' house to confront them about their plan, but they attacked and sent her away. On April 13, the elderly woman approached the district superintendent of police to file a complaint.

A report by The New Indian Express indicated that the children were often punished by rubbing chili powder against their private parts, making them drink toiler cleaners and forcing them to sleep in the bathroom without wearing any shirt. The boys were also required to do all household chores.

The parents reportedly discontinued the older child's schooling, while the younger one was not enrolled in a school at all.

Following the arrest, India's Child Welfare Committee has issued a "temporary placement order," allowing the kids to be in their grandparent's custody.

"We have nabbed five people. The allegations seem to be true. Further probe is on," the investigating officer said.

In a similar incident last month, a 21-year-old mother from the Indian state of Jharkhand was arrested after her 42-day-old baby girl's charred body was discovered near her house under mysterious circumstances. The woman killed the baby as part of a sacrifice ritual to get a baby boy, local sources said.

According to Mahavidya, sorcery is the most important teaching of the ancient Atharva Veda. Magic rituals are also believed to challenge conventional means of communicating with gods, said.

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