The Araria district police have stumbled upon a case in which a group of persons is suspected to be involved in a racket of bodies, particularly of those struck dead by lightning.

Two instances where bodies have been exhumed have come to light, Superintendent of Police Shedeep Lande told The Hindu . “We were investigating a case of theft of an elephant tooth when we came across a case of a body being exhumed. On the basis of a statement given by an accused, we investigated the matter and found around 35 witnesses.”

Mr. Lande said Majid, who was involved in the theft case, had paid money to two persons in 2011 to exhume the body of a person who was struck by lightning in Madhulata village.

Another instance was recorded at Lali Tola in the same village.

“We are probing the possibility of a racket and would be filing a charge sheet. Mostly people do not report to the police cases of death by lightning as they believe it is an act of God. They want to avoid post-mortem examination and registration of a case as unnatural death,” Mr. Lande said.

Majid, who has a previous case under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, “used to work as a bidder at the Kolkata Customs House mainly dealing in antiques, local snakes, elephant teeth, rhino and penguin skins, which are used for medicinal purposes,” Mr. Lande said.

The police are trying to find out where the bodies were taken.

“There is a dearth of bodies in medical colleges in Western Europe. They are also in demand in China and Nepal,” Mr. Lande said.

The police have announced a cash reward of Rs. 1,000 for information on such incidents.