In a shocking case, a 17-year old girl was forced to eat buffalo dung allegedly to exorcise evil spirits who had possessed her, police sources said in Latur on Tuesday.
The incident occurred in Dhangarwadi village, near Chakur, in the district last week and came to light after a villager lodged a complaint with the local police.
According to the sources, the girl and two other women relatives were accused of being haunted by evil spirits as they regularly quarreled with the menfolk in the household.
Their relatives forcibly took them to a tantric (godman) to a village in neighbouring Karnataka's Bidar district who claimed he could exorcise the evil spirits from the women.
When the girl protested, the tantric became furious and ordered her to be tied down.
As her relatives pinned and tied her down, the tantric allegedly forced globs of buffalo-dung into her mouth which she choked and swallowed.
During the bizarre ritual, the girl allegedly named a person who was practicing black magic in her village, affecting both humans and cattle.
When that person learnt of the developments, he feared for his safety and lodged a complaint with the police last Sunday, naming at least five accused in the matter.
Investigations have been launched and police teams have fanned out in neighbouring villages to trace some of the absconding accused.
A secret video recording of the incident has gone viral on social media and several civil society members, including Hamid Dabholkar, son of slain rationalist Narendra Dabholkar, have strongly condemned it and demanded action in the matter.
Despite repeated attempts, Latur Superintendent of Police Shivajirao Rathod was not available for comment.