The Karnataka Police on Wednesday arrested four accused, including Mahadeshwara Hill Saluru Mutt seer Pattada Immadi Mahadevaswamy, in connection with the food poisoning incident at a temple in Chamarajanagar. The toll from the incident had risen to 15 by Tuesday.
South zone Inspector General of Police Sharath Chandra, at a press conference on Wednesday, identified the remaining accused as Ambika, Madesha and Doddaya.
The police said Mahadevaswamy, the main accused, allegedly had differences with the temple’s trust on a construction-related decision and wanted to ruin the reputation of the committee to gain control of the administration. A woman, identified as Ambika, reportedly connived with the main accused and procured pesticides from the agriculture department by claiming that her plants were dying.
Mahadevaswamy reportedly wanted to build a gopura (top most portion of the temple) with an estimated budget of Rs 1 crore but the temple trust had confirmed the allotment of Rs 75 lakh to the project instead.
On December 14, around 150 people who were served vegetable rice as offering at the Sulavadi Kichchugutti Maramma temple in Hanur taluka began to fall ill after eating it. Forensic tests on the offering that was served at the shrine showed that it contained pesticide, The Indian Express reported.
Meanwhile, the main accused has also been accused of sexually harassing women devotees at the tempe, TV9 Kannada reported.
Unidentified police officials had said that a case of culpable homicide not amounting to murder has been registered against seven persons from the temple management.
On Tuesday, Karnataka Bharatiya Janata Party chief BS Yeddyurappa claimed that the incident was a “planned conspiracy”. He demanded that the Congress-led government take strict action and be “merciless” against those involved.