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Relic hunter arrested after witchcraft claim

SAPA, South Africa
Dec. 8, 2003 • Thursday December 11, 2003

New Delhi – An Indian man searching for an ancient treasure was arrested for allegedly performing witchcraft on a naked 16-year-old girl, it was reported on Monday.

Mahbub Mian, an Indian Moslem from Guntur district in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh, hired a sorcerer to help him find a treasure apparently buried decades ago by a Hindu king.

The sorcerer, named Vallakati Parthasarathi, was paid to find the king’s elusive jewels, the Asian Age newspaper reported.

The sorcerer planned elaborate prayers and rituals over 24 days. Mian provided him with a girl from the village, who was stripped naked, made to pray for two hours and walk along the outskirts of the village at midnight. Police accused Parthasarathi of performing witchcraft on her.

At the end of the 24-day period, the sorcerer planned to sacrifice the girl as well as a local boy, claiming this would lead him to the treasure, the report said. He had dug a four-metre-deep pit in Mian’s house where they would be buried.

Other villagers soon found out about the strange midnight prayers and informed police, who arrested the sorcerer. Mian denied any involvement in the case and has not been arrested so far.

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