In a striking discovery, Indian police have exposed a stash of hundreds of human skulls and thigh bones. They have also busted the gang behind smuggling of human skulls to the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan for use in Buddhist monasteries.
The police found the latest collection in Jaigaon, in eastern India on the border with Bhutan. Since April when the police discovered what they called a human bones factory in the state, it was the second cache of human bones caught in eastern India and police now suspects the region to be the center of such a trade on a large scale.
During interrogation the suspects confessed that the human bones are used as blow-horns, and skulls as vessels to drink from at religious ceremonies. They also revealed that the demand for hollow human thigh bones was surging in monasteries. The bones are also sold to medical students for use in traditional medicine.
The police suspect that both caches were brought from Varanasi, the holy Hindu holy city where millions of people are cremated every year on the banks of the Ganges.
One of the suspects told that he had plucked bodies from the river, as well as collected those left behind at Hindu cremation centers by poor people who did not have the wood to carry out a proper cremation.
Buddhist monks in India said followers of a Tibetan school of Buddhism used human bones and skulls.
Eastern India was once a flourishing center for the trade of human skeletons, which were exported to Western Europe. But the government prohibited the exports in the late 1980s after human rights activists questioned the morality of such a trade. Since then, the illegal trade went underground.