New Delhi: A 40-year-old man allegedly brutally killed a barn owl to perform black magic in order to attract a woman he liked in outer Delhi's Sultanpuri, police said on Monday.
The accused, identified as Kanhaya, a truck driver, was arrested on November 11 after police got a tip-off from the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) about him, they said.
A raid was conducted and police found the owl's carcass in a cooler in his house, said a senior police official, adding that the accused has been evasive during questioning and has been saying different things.
However, he showed police a YouTube video, which detailed the process of sacrificing an owl and the 'tantric' rituals that had to be followed while performing it to that you could hypnotise the person you wanted to.
"He said he liked a girl and he wanted that she should be attracted towards him. He said he procured the owl to perform the rituals he saw in the video. The accused is married with three children and even his family was aware about him sacrificing the owl after Diwali," said the officer.
The post-mortem report of the owl said it "died due to multiple puncture wounds", the officer said.
"The post-mortem report said the accused had allegedly cut the claws of the owl with a knife and inserted several needles into its liver and lungs, suggesting that he sued the owl as a voodoo," he added.
Kanhaya's father died on Diwali and initially it was suspected he was carrying out the sacrifice ritual to appease the gods or pray to gods for his father but that angle has been ruled out. His father apparently died due to dehydration caused by dysentery. The accused has also been evasive as to how he got the owl. He has been claiming that he found the owl lying injured and brought it home but it has been found that the owl only had injuries that were sustained during the attack by the accused, the officer said.
He has also claimed that his brother-in-law got the owl but it has not been confirmed as of now.
"We are probing as to how he procured the owl, what price he paid for it, whether he has previously sacrificed animals and whether he was making a living out of it," he added.
Initially, it was also probed whether his wife was practicing black magic, but it is clear that he was the one who was doing it but we are questioning his family members about it. Police also said the owl sacrifice had nothing to do with Diwali.
On November 2, wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC had issued an advisory to enforcement agencies, asking them to increase efforts to curb trafficking and sacrificing of owls on Diwali for 'tantric' rituals.
TRAFFIC India, which operates as a programme division of WWF–India, the largest conservation organisation in India, had said as Diwali celebrations peak in India, so does the number of owls that are illegally trapped and sacrificed to supply 'tantric' rituals and ceremonies.
"TRAFFIC has issued an 'advisory' to enforcement agencies calling for increased efforts to help curb trafficking and sacrifice of owls casting a shadow over the future of the species in India," it said in a statement.
While the exact number of owls traded domestically is unknown, estimates place the figure in thousands of individuals throughout the country, it said.