A 25-year-old soldier, who was part of a group of Kanwariyas from Uttar Pradesh, was killed in Haridwar by pilgrims from Haryana on Wednesday, PTI reported, citing the police.

During the Kanwar Yatra, an annual pilgrimage, devotees of the Hindu deity Shiva collect water from the Ganga river in Uttarakhand’s Haridwar and offer it at temples in their states. These devotees, called Kanwariyas, walk hundreds of kilometres.

Haridwar Superintendent of Police (Rural) Pramendra Dobhal on Wednesday identified the deceased man as Kartik, a soldier from the Jat Regiment of the Indian Army.

A resident of Sisauli village in Muzaffarnagar district, he was returning from Haridwar after fetching water from the Ganga along with other members of his group, Dobhal said.

According to the police, Kartik’s group and pilgrims from Haryana were riding motorcycles and racing each other, PTI reported. After Kartik drove past the other group, they attacked him with batons and iron rods.

Kartik, who was on leave to attend the annual pilgrimage, succumbed to his injuries on the way to the hospital, Dobhal added.

The police have arrested six persons in connection with the killing.

The accused persons were identified as 38-year-old Sundar, 30-year-old Rahul, Sachin, 25, Akash, 21, Pankaj, 22, and 24-year-old Rinku. “All of them are from Chulkana village in Haryana’s Panipat district,” Dobhal said.

The police have registered a case of culpable homicide not amounting to murder against 20 pilgrims, Dobhal told ANI.

The search is on to arrest the remaining accused persons, he said.

This year, the Kanwar Yatra was held from July 14 to 26. It was organised after two years due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In 2018, agitated Kanwariya pilgrims in West Delhi’s Moti Nagar vandalised a car after it had brushed past one of them on a congested road.