A priest died after being set on fire allegedly by five people who wanted to encroach on temple land in Rajasthan’s Karauli district, PTI reported on Friday, citing the police.
The five accused allegedly poured petrol on the priest, identified as Babu Lal Vaishnav, set him on fire in Bukna village on Wednesday. Vaishnav died of his injuries on Thursday night.
Karauli Superintendent of Police Mridul Kachhava said two accused have been arrested and are being interrogated. He said that the police had registered an attempt to murder case on Thursday, and now, it will be converted into a murder case. Senior police officer Harji Lal Yadav told NDTV that a postmortem of the body is under way.
According to the news channel, the deceased priest owned about 5.2 acres of land which belonged to the Radha Krishna temple trust in the village. However, the land was given to the head priest to till.
Vaishnav wanted to build a house for himself on a plot close to this land. In order to start construction, he had the land levelled by an earth-mover. A group of people from the dominant Meena community objected to this and took the matter to the village council. The village elders ruled in favour of the priest.
Vaishnav then placed bales of his newly harvested millet on the land as a sign of his ownership. But the accused began to build their own hut on the land, which led to an altercation. The priest said in his dying declaration that the accused poured petrol on his bales of millet and set them afire. He alleged that they also poured petrol on him and set him on fire. Vaishnav was rushed to SMS Hospital in Jaipur, where he succumbed to his injuries.
The victim’s family have demanded action against the station house officer of the area, investigation by a deputy rank official, compensation and a government job to a family member, PTI reported.
A political blame-game began on Thursday with the Bharatiya Janata Party claiming that the law and order situation has worsened in the state under Congress rule. “There is no fear of law among criminals who are roaming freely under Congress rule,” Rajasthan BJP President Satish Poonia said. “People are living under fear while criminals have no fear. This is the situation when the chief minister himself is holding the home portfolio.”
Former Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje said that given how the crime graph has been rising in the state, no woman, child, elderly person or Dalit is safe. She called for strict punishment for the culprits.
BJP MP Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore said that no one was safe in Rajasthan be it women, children or priests, reported ANI. “A government which stays at a five-star hotel for months can protect only itself, it can’t protect public,” claimed Rathore.
Union minister Prakash Javadekar claimed that incidents of rape have increased in Rajasthan. He also targeted Congress leader Rahul Gandhi over the death. “He [Rahul Gandhi] should either ask the Rajasthan government to resign or make efforts for its betterment,” Javadekar said, according to the Financial Express. “They should take action against the culprits.”
Meanwhile, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot condemned the incident, calling it “unfortunate”. “We do not have a place for such acts here,” he tweeted. “The state government stands by the family of the deceased. The main accused has been arrested and a case is underway. The accused won’t be spared.”