A man allegedly murdered two priests of a temple at Pagona village in Anoopshahar area in Uttar Pradesh’s Bulandshahr district on Monday night using a sword, NDTV reported. The priests had earlier accused the man of theft.
The police said the accused, identified as Murai, was under the influence of drugs at the time of the incident. Villagers found the man roaming around with the sword and without clothes, a police officer said, according to PTI. He has been arrested and will be questioned when he gets sober.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath has reportedly asked the police to take action against the accused, and also asked top officials to inspect the site of the crime and submit a detailed report. The two priests were identified as Jagdish or Rangidas, 55, and Sher Singh, 46, the Hindustan Times reported.
“The two babas lived here at the temple,” senior police officer Santosh Kumar Singh told ANI. “As per initial probe, it has been found that few days ago, he had taken away a belonging of the priests, after which they had scolded him. Following [this], he murdered [the] two priests.”
Singh said Murai was enraged since he was accused of theft. After consuming bhaang [cannabis], he went to the temple on Monday night in a fit of rage and murdered the religious leaders, Singh alleged.
Meanwhile, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray spoke to Adityanath and expressed concern over the incident. “Have spoken to Yogi Adityanath over phone and discussed the incident,” Thackeray tweeted. “I told him we are with you against such a heinous crime. Just the way we acted strongly, I wish you would do the same and avoid giving this a communal angle.”
Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut also urged people not to communalise the matter. “Terrible,” he tweeted. “Killing of two saints, sadhus at a temple in Bulandshahar, UP, but I appeal to all concerned to not make it communal the way they tried to make Palghar, Maharashtra, incident.”
Party leader Priyanka Chaturvedi called the incident “terrible news” and urged people to not communalise it. “Terrible news to read and expect the UP government to take stern action,” she tweeted. “Hope some sections of the media and keyboard warriors don’t attempt to communalise this issue and blame the CM [chief minister] at a time when the state and country are battling Covid.”
Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra said the incident should not be politicised and that the accused should be punished. “Today in Bulandshahr, two sadhus were murdered while they were sleeping,” she tweeted. “The truth must come out after investigation in this heinous crime and at this stage no body should politicise this issue.”
The incident came nearly two weeks after three Mumbai residents, who were on their way to Silvassa, were lynched by local residents in Gadakchinchale village of Palghar district in Maharashtra on the suspicion that they were thieves. A large mob of villagers had surrounded the car of the three men and started attacking them with sticks and iron rods, leading to their deaths. Two of the victims were reportedly local religious leaders from Kandivali suburb in Mumbai, and the third was their driver.
The Maharashtra unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party had alleged that the religious leaders had been killed by design. However, the Shiv Sena-led Maharashtra government denied any religious angle.