On Monday, two sadhus, namely Jagdish (55) and Sher Singh (45) were attacked and left for dead in the temple premises in Uttar Pradesh's Paguana village.
They had apparently been hit with a lathi while at the Shiva temple in Anupshahr police station area, police said. The alleged killer has been arrested.
The incident has shocked netizens and evoked a reaction from many of the country's political leaders as well. Officials have also rubbished the possibility of a communal or casteist angle to the crime.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has also ordered a probe into the killings.
Coming back to the crime itself, police officials have arrested a man named Murari alias Raju, who belongs to a scheduled caste. Incidentally, senior police officer, Santosh Kumar Singh had said that he mentioned the caste of the accused so that no communal or caste angle was derived from this incident.
Based on what we know so far, it would seem that this was a retaliatory crime, after the saints accused Murari of stealing.
"The two babas lived here at the temple. Murari alias Raju, who belongs to a scheduled caste, allegedly took away their ''chimta'' (tongs) for which he was abused by the priests a couple of days ago. On Monday, he had cannabis and beat them to death by lathi," Singh said.
A PTI report adds that the youth in question was caught near the temple soon after the two sadhus were discovered dead. He was allegedly under the influence of cannabis and told senior officers that after taking "bhang" on Monday night he had gone to the temple and killed the sadhus with a lathi lying there. PTI quoted the police to say that the villagers had caught the youth when he was spotted roaming naked about two kiolmetres from the scene of the crime.
According to one official, the intoxicated youth said he carried out "God's will", denying he had any quarrel with the priests. Reportedly, he will be interrogated at length once the influence of the drug wears off.
(With inputs from Kanchan Srivastava and PTI)