The family of a priest in Rajasthan, who was set on fire allegedly by five people who wanted to encroach on a temple land in Karauli district, allowed his last rites to be performed on Saturday, NDTV reported. The family had earlier refused to allow the cremation till their demands were met.
The police also detained two people in the case. Three others were named in the first information report filed by them.
Bharatiya Janata Party leader Ramesh Meena said the family of the priest will be given 10 lakh and a government job, ANI reported.
The five accused had 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. The police said two accused have been arrested and were being interrogated.
“We won’t perform the last rites of the body till our demands are met,” Lalit, one of the family members of priest Vaishnav, had told ANI. “We want Rs 50 lakh compensation and a government job.”
Besides this, Lalit said the family demands the immediate arrest of all the accused. The family alleged the village police and the patwari, government official who keeps records regarding the ownership of land, were supporting the accused and demanded action against them. They also demanded protection for themselves.
Sub-Divisional Magistrate Om Prakash Meena had gone to Vaishnav’s village to request the family to perform the last rites. “People gathered for his [the priest’s] last rite,” Meena said. “They have made some demands from the administration and state government. We are requesting the priest’s family to perform last rites as two days have passed since the death.”
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 taken to SMS Hospital in Jaipur, where he succumbed to his injuries.
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 the Congress. “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.”