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Three arrested for murder of Australian grandmother in India

An Australian grandmother missing for two months in southern India has been found dead, with three men facing murder charges.


Australian officials said on Saturday evening they were providing consular assistance to the family of Sydney woman Toni Anne Ludgate, who was a devotee of the Hindu guru Sathya Sai Baba and a regular visitor to his Puttaparti headquarters in Andhra Pradesh state.

The 75-year-old went missing in August after arriving in India in July.

Indian police say her body has been exhumed and a guard at the apartment building where she was living has been arrested over her murder along with two of his friends.

Inspector B. Venugopal said the men robbed Ms Ludgate of her money and jewellery, killed her and buried her body in a remote place about 15 kilometres from Puttaparti.

Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs said it was assisting Ms Ludgate’s family, and is understood to be liaising with Puttaparthi police in charge of the investigation as well as the commissioner of police in Bangalore.

DFAT told News Corp Australia earlier this week it was sending consular officials to Bangalore on the basis this was where Ms Ludgate was believed to have been headed.

She was reportedly last seen getting into a taxi with another woman on September 23.

Her daughter, author Traci Harding, told Sydney’s Daily Telegraph Indian police had been unable to find the cab driver and one of her mother’s two mobile phones had received a couple of short calls, about one second each, since then.

Sai Baba, who died in April 2011, was considered a saint by his devotees. They continue to visit his ashram in large numbers.

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‘My name is Traci Harding, and for the past two months, my mother, Toni Anne Ludgate has been missing in the Bangalore/ Puttaparthi region of India,’ reads the start of an online petition to Foreign Minister Julie Bishop on change深圳桑拿,.

Ms Ludgate’s family had been actively searching for her mother since she went missing.

‘If we are to have any hope of finding any trace of my mother we need Indian Federal Government and Indian Federal Police involvement, AND Indian Consulate personnel to oversee the investigation in Puttaparthi.’

‘Toni was in Puttaparthi doing charity work, as she has done every year for quite some time.’