Alekhya (27) had completed a diploma in forest studies from Bhopal. Like many others her age, she was a regular user of social media websites like Instagram, where she shared pictures of herself, her friends and family. However, earlier this week, there was a shift in her posts. "Shiva is coming," a post on January 21 said. This was followed by another post, "Work is done," and another one, which said, "Islam is dead. Muslims are gone. Mohammed in Halahal #Shivaspeaks (sic)."
On Sunday, Alekhya and her younger sister, Sai Divya (22), were found dead at their home in Andhra Pradesh's Madanapalle, in Chittoor district. Police said that the parents of the women had murdered them as part of occult rituals and superstition, claiming that they would be resurrected later.
Police, who entered the home after complaints by neighbours, found one daughter lying dead in the prayer room while another was found in another room with some ritual material on both their bodies. The police say that the daughters were bludgeoned to death by a dumbell and also stabbed with a trident. What has left many in disbelief is that the parents were highly qualified academically. V Purushotam Naidu was a lecturer in a government degree college while his wife V Padmaja, was a maths teacher in a private school.
Videos of a conversation recorded by the police between the parents and authorities after they entered the house, reveal that Naidu and Padmaja were seemingly in a trance and had some deep misbeliefs that they could resurrect their daughters, if just given a day's time.
"We are spiritual and we believe in spiritual practices. Our elder daughter (Alekhya) too, is spiritual. We have done all required practices from last one week," Padmaja is heard saying, before getting upset at the police for disrupting the ritual and saying, "We have done shuddhi. You people aren't understanding."
The husband and wife claimed that they had seen 'results' from rituals that they had performed earlier. Padmaja claimed that her daughters were alive for an hour "even after their heads were broken, and that's proof that these things are working".
"We've done such processes before. We get messages from god," she added.
Naidu is seen telling the police that their younger daughter "got a message from god about the arrival of Satya yuga (era of truth)," which Padmaja backs, saying "Kal yuga (the era of strife) is gone and Satya yuga is coming."
In the videos, Naidu keeps repeating his family's accomplishments and insists that they're spiritual and accomplished people. He says similar rituals seem to have worked in the past. From the highly disturbing videos, one gets a sense that Naidu realised that things have gone wrong after his daughters died.
However, Padmaja is seen accusing him of giving up on his faith too soon, and also accusing cops of interrupting the process.
Police could not immediately arrest the couple as they seemed to be in a state of trance. They said that while Naidu began cooperating with them, Padmaja's mental health condition was still not stable.
On Tuesday, Padmaja was taken for a coronavirus test as per protocol, where she was found to be talking about the pandemic. She began claiming that she was lord Shiva, who had unleashed the coronavirus from her own body. She was made to sit on a chair as a healthcare worker tried to take her swab, but she continued to behave in a hostile manner. Meanwhile, Naidu lit the pyre of his daughters while sobbing inconsolably.
After being produced in front of a local magistrate, the couple have been sent to the Madanapalle jail on a 14-day remand.