KANPUR: In a horrific incident, two temple priests were burnt alive by unidentified miscreants in Orai district late on Wednesday night. Another priest is reported to be missing, police said adding, his role in the crime is being investigated.
“Unidentified miscreants raided the Balkhandi Devi temple near Tikri village under the limits of Sirsa Kalar police station of the district and after brutally hacking priests Ramcharan and Krishna Das to death, threw their bodies into the huge temple furnace used for cooking ‘bhandara’ food, and set it on fire by sprinkling kerosene oil,” SP Rakesh Shanker said.
Police are conducting raids to apprehend the assailants, he added.
Devotees found badly charred body parts strewn near the furnace with blood splattered all over the place at the ground floor of the temple when they reached the Balkhandi Devi temple for prayers at around 8 am on Thursday. They immediately informed the police about the incident and soon the news spread like wildfire, said Sirsa Kalar police.
“We are trying to ascertain the motive behind the double murder and search is underway to trace Baladeen, the third priest,” DySP Lallan Yadav told TOI.
Police have set up check-posts at all roads leading out of the district to arrest the culprits behind the gruesome killings.
“The killings took place while both the priests were sleeping on the roof of the temple. On Wednesday night, while Ramcharan was sleeping near the ‘matt’ of Lord Hanuman and Krishna Das close to the ‘matt’ of another deity, miscreants attacked them with sharp-edged weapons and chopped their body into pieces. They then threw the body parts into the furnace, sprinkled kerosene and set the fire,” Yadav added.
Family members of the priests, villagers and devotees who gathered in huge numbers at the spot, were shocked at the brutality of the crime. They raised slogans against the police and demanded a thorough investigation. Additional police force has been deployed in the area to prevent any untoward incident.
The Sirsa Kalar police has registered a case under Sections 302 (murder) of the Indian Penal Code.
According to SP Rakesh Shanker, special teams have been formed to trace the third priest. “Village sources have told us that it could be the handiwork of Baladeen, who is missing since the incident. We are suspecting his involvement in the crime,” he said.
Preliminary probe revealed that the suspects were known to the priests as they had not forced their entry into the temple.
In the complaint filed by priest Krishna Das’s relative Sarju, Baladeen has been named as the prime suspect.