A couple has been sentenced to life imprisonment by the Aurangabad court on Tuesday for killing their son and a close relative's daughter to "please the evil spirits".
The couple believed that the "sacrifice" of the kids would lead them to hidden treasures in their farm in Chimta area in Loni village of Vaijapur.
The VI sessions judge, Neha Kapdi, has also slapped a fine of Rs 1000 each on Krishna Jadhav (32) and his wife Rohini (25), and for default in payment of the fine, they would have to undergo six months imprisonment.
The other accused named in the case, identified as Bal Yogi Maharaj, has disappeared following the incident and is still absconding, said Rajendra Mugdia, the public prosecutor.
Krishna Jadhav was a mason by profession and Rohini a housewife. The couple had two sons Kunal (4) and Rohan (2). Jadhav believed that a hidden treasure was buried somewhere in his three acre farm, situated in Chimta area, about 2 km from the Loni village. He had come in contact with Bal Yogi Maharaj, a resident of Satara area in Aurangabad, who claimed to have magical powers. Maharaj had asked Jadhav to find out a tortoise with 21-nails for sacrificial purpose in his farm to unearth the hidden treasure, to avoid sacrificing two human lives.
However, when he failed in procuring the specific tortoise, he decided to kill his own son and Sharada Ambadas Matsgar (9), the daughter of Rohini's sister who lived in Jalva village, about 20 km from Loni.
On April 10, 2009, Jadhav and Rohini visited the Matsagar's residence under the pretext of inquiring about health of Ambadas, the victim's father, who was recovering from a scorpion bite. Then they also insisted that Sharda be sent along with them to stay in Chimta area. Ambadas reluctantly allowed them to take his daughter to Chimta area, where no proper arrangement was available and the children had to stay in the hut and face inconvenience.
At 4.45 pm on April 15, 2009, the couple informed their relatives and the police that they found the bodies of Kunal and Sharada lying in a pool of blood with their throats slit. They claimed that they had left Chimta leaving both the children playing in the hut, but found their bodies after returning from a visit to a dentist in Vaijapur.
The police recovered a sword, a knife and an axe apart from small stone-idols, coconut and the material used for offering puja from the spot, while pressing a sniffer dog into action. The sniffer dog identified Jadhav. The police, to be again sure of his involvement, mixed Jadhav in the crowd of about 300 people that had gathered on the spot. Still, the sniffer dog barked at only Jadhav, the public prosecutor said.
The prosecution examined 21 witnesses, of them 16 had turned hostile. The prosecution had sought capital punishment for the duo as their crime was brutal and heinous, said Mugdia. The court showing leniency in view of the couple having a 2-year-old son sentenced them to life imprisonment. They have been in prison ever since their arrest on April 15, 2009, Mugdia added.