Two women in Andhra Pradesh were murdered allegedly by their parents, with the police suspecting that the crime was linked to occult practices, NDTV reported on Monday. The parents have been arrested.

The sisters, 27-year-old Alekhya and 23-year-old Sai Divya, were allegedly bludgeoned to death with a dumbbell at their home in Madanapalle in Chittoor district on Sunday night. When the police arrived at the scene, the parents claimed they could revive the women.

Alekhya worked at the Indian Institute of Forest Management in Bhopal but had quit her job to prepare for the civil services examination. Her sister was studying music at an institute in Chennai.

The women’s parents, Valleru Purushottam Naidu and Padmaja, are both highly-educated. “Naidu is a professor of chemistry and vice-principal at the Government Girls’ Degree College in Madanapalle, while Padmaja identifies herself as a gold medalist, postgraduate in mathematics, who was working at an IIT coaching institute,” Deputy Superintendent of Police Manohara Chary told the news channel.

The police officer added that the couple may have performed some ritual before the murders. He also said that the sisters were dressed in red sarees and their parents were delusional.

The family’s neighbours claimed that the women were made to circle their house for a ritual. The parents allegedly believed that their daughters were possessed by an evil sprit.

The couple claimed during police interrogation that “unseen forces” had instructed them to kill their daughters, The Hindu reported.

Deputy Superintendent of Police A Ravi Manohar Achari told the newspaper that the parents seemed disturbed and paranoid. “We have kept them under observation,” he said. “Further action will be taken whether they require any treatment for psychological disorders.”