The mother of a nine-year-old girl and a local exorcist have been arrested in Sri Lanka for caning to death the child in an exorcism ritual they believed would drive away the “evil spirit” possessing her.
The incident occurred in the small town of Delgoda, just outside the capital city of Colombo, where the child was brought by her parents for an exorcism to be performed on her, according to local media reports.
An unidentified woman allegedly beat the girl repeatedly in order to drive out the “spirit” which led to the death of the child.
Police have arrested two people -- the mother of the child and the woman performing the exorcism -- and booked them for the girl’s death.
According to police spokesperson Ajith Rohana, the mother, a resident of Kadaboda in Meegahawatta, believed her daughter had been possessed by a demon and took her to the home of the exorcist so a ritual could be performed to drive the spirit away.
Mr Rohana said the exorcist first put oil on the girl and then began to repeatedly hit her with a cane. When the girl lost consciousness, she was taken to a hospital, where she was declared dead on admission.
The police informed an autopsy has been scheduled for Monday, and the body was referred for a post-mortem examination.
The woman who performed the ritual on the girl was known in the area for offering such services in recent months and police were investigating whether anyone else had been abused, Mr Rohana said.
The police spokesperson also urged the public to be careful about such services as the girl was not the first to die during such a ritual. There have been a number of such alleged exorcism attempts in the area in recent years, police added, with some causing physical harm – including death.
Additional reporting by agencies
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