The theft of the body of a man who died ten years back from a graveyard has led police to believe that they have stumbled into a larger racket in trading corpses.
The missing of the corpse came to light only after family members of Iftikhar, who died 10 years back after being hit by lightning, complained that his body had gone missing from the grave in Malihabad in rural Lucknow.
The family used to offer prayers on the grave and were shocked to find it dug up one morning.
After investigations, police rounded up and interrogated three people - Brij Pal, Rajesh and Umesh - who revealed that they were indeed in search of bodies hit by lightning.
They named a self-styled doctor Rajendra as the main man behind the crime. "Dr. Rajendra offered to pay us Rs.50,000 for the bones of a lightning victim", Brij Pal told the police.
Rajendra, who reportedly lives in a village in Sitapur district, about 40 km from here, has not yet been arrested.
The cops zeroed in on Pal as he had approached Iftikhar's family a few days back to locate his grave on the pretext of offering prayers at the grave of a person killed by lightning to ward off an evil spirit.
Pal and his accomplices, however, said they had not take away the remains of the body as the experiment they were asked to conduct before exhuming the bones did not show positive results.
"The arrested people claim that rice kept on the remains of a lightning victim turns red while an electronic watch stops running if brought in contact with the body remains," Lucknow Senior Superintendent of Police G.K. Goswami said.
He added: "The accused said they did not exhume the bones of the body in question since the suggested experiment did not work."
The police have now launched a manhunt for Rajendra, who has been identified as a school dropout. According to Goswami, Rajendra passed off as a doctor because his father was a technician at the King George's Medical College here.