Police in the Indian capital of New Delhi have arrested a man who allegedly chopped off both ears of his three-year-old stepdaughter.

The incident reportedly took place in the early hours of Thursday (22 June) when the toddler, Bina, and other members of the family were asleep at their house in New Delhi's GTB Enclave.

Ravindra Yadav, joint commissioner, confirmed the incident to the Times of India. He told the paper that the accused, Amrit Bahadur, 35, is mentally unstable. He has been charged with attempt to murder under Section 307 of the Indian Penal Code.

Bahadur reportedly told the police that "ghosts" visited him around 2am local time on Thursday and asked him to make his stepdaughter cry, so he poured water on her. Not satisfied, the ghosts then demanded blood, "so, I chopped a bit of her ear," he reportedly said.

"But they asked me to give them her entire ear, so I sliced both her ears and kept them in a corner so that they could collect them."

The girl's screams woke up her mother and other family members, who then sought neighbours' help to prevent Bahadur from hurting his daughter.

When police arrived at the scene, the man was about to slash the girl's throat, Nupur Prasad, deputy commissioner of police for Shahdara region in New Delhi, said. She added that the man was drunk and was apparently hallucinating at the time of committing the crime.

The victim has been referred to All India Institute of Medical Sciences in the capital, where doctors have preserved her ears. They will reportedly attempt to reattach the ears during a medical procedure on Friday.