An Australian grandmother has been cremated in a traditional Hindu ceremony in India following the arrest of her three alleged killers.
Toni Anne Ludgate disappeared in August, a month after travelling to the ashram of Hindu guru Sathya Sai Baba in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh.
The mother-of-three from Sydney was a regular visitor to the Prasanthi Nilayam ashram where she volunteered in a cantina.
After months of worry, daughter Traci Harding received news on Saturday night that police had exhumed her mother’s body from a remote place outside Puttaparthi.
“I felt relieved and at peace last night because she is,” the well-known science fiction novelist told AAP.
Indian police said a guard at Ms Ludgate’s apartment building had been arrested for her murder along with two of his friends.
The men robbed Ms Ludgate of money and jewellery before killing her, police told AP.
Ms Harding said her 75-year-old mother had been unhappy with where she lived and had wanted to move.
Despite the way her mother died, Ms Harding said she didn’t feel any anger towards the guard.
“I feel sorry for him,” she said.
“I’m not a seek-retribution person, it’s up to the Indian authorities to decide what to do with these men.”
Ms Harding gave permission to the ashram to give her mother a traditional cremation ceremony on Saturday.
She paid tribute to the selfless, hard-working woman who followed her devotion to India.
“She used to say to me `I can’t explain it to you, it’s the presence of India and the people’,” Ms Harding said.
“She adored her family and her friends but even still she could leave us for long periods of time and go there because she loved it so much.”
A memorial service is expected to be held for Ms Ludgate later this month.
Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade says it is providing consular assistance to Ms Ludgate’s family while consular officials are liaising closely with Indian authorities, including police in Puttaparthi.
Sai Baba, who died in April 2011, was considered a saint by his devotees. They continue to visit his ashram in large numbers.