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Published On: Sat, Oct 10th, 2020

Temple priest burnt alive over property dispute in Rajasthan

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periestJAIPUR : In a shocking incident, a 50-year-old temple priest was set on fire with petrol by six people in Rajasthan’s Karauli district. He was attacked by five persons, who wanted to encroach on the temple land on Wednesday. The priest had reportedly resisted an attempt by them to encroach upon land that belonged to the temple authorities.
The priest, Babulal Vaishnav, in his statement said he and his family were looking after a Radha Krsihna temple in the village and the surrounding land allotted on the temple’s name was being used by them for farming.
On Thursday, at around 10 a.m., accused Kailash came along with a few people and started putting up tin sheds on the land. When Vaishnav resisted, they sprinkled petrol on him in Bukna village and set him ablaze. He was referred to the SMS hospital in Jaipur in a critical condition where he succumbed to his burn injuries on Thursday night.
On the basis of Babu Lal Vaishnav’s statement to the police before his death on Thursday night, main accused Kailash Meena was arrested on Friday. The police had registered a case of attempt to murder against the five persons. It was converted to that of murder after after the priest’s death and a team led by an Additional Superintendent of Police was conducting investigation and searching for other accused.
Looking at the gravity of the crime, the SP Karauli, Mridul Kachhawa has constituted teams and initiated the probe to trace the criminals.  Vaishnav’s family members have demanded action against the SHO, investigation by a deputy rank official, compensation and government jobs for a family member.”

Former Rajasthan CM and BJP leader Vasundhara Raje attacked the Ashok Gehlot government in the state and called the incident ‘a highly condemnable crime’. “The incident of burning a priest alive in Karauli district’s Sapotra is highly condemnable. No amount of grief is enough for this. Raje tweeted.
Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said no guilty person would be spared in the case. “Mr. Vaishnav’s murder is unfortunate and condemnable. There is no place for such an act in a civilised society. The main accused has been arrested and further action is in progress,” Mr. Gehlot, who also holds the Home portfolio, tweeted.

The priest, along with his family, was doing farming on 15-bigha land, belonging to the Radha Krishna Temple Trust, while the accused allegedly been trying to encroach on the land. He was attacked by the accused on Wednesday, when they were reportedly erecting a shed on the land.
Earlier today the sub divisional magistrate of Karauli district, Om Prakash Meena, had rushed to the priest’s village to persuade the family to hold the funeral. “We are requesting the family to perform last rites as two days have passed since the death,” he said.

However this land became the source of a dispute in Rajasthan’s Karauli, which is around 177 km from Jaipur. Babu Lal wanted to build a house for himself on a plot close to his land, which is bordered by a small hillock. In order to start construction, he had the land levelled by an earth-mover.
However, a group of people from the dominant Meena community objected to this and claimed the land as their own. The dispute was taken to the village elders who ruled in favour of the priest but the accused allegedly started building their own hut on the land that the priest had leveled.
This led to an altercation. The priest, whose statement before the police has been recorded, said six people poured petrol on his bales of bajra (millet) which were lying at the disputed site and set it on fire on Wednesday.
He claimed they also poured petrol on him and tried to set him on fire. Suffering burn injuries, he was rushed to Jaipur’s SMS Hospital where he died on Thursday evening.
Six people were named by the priest in his statement to the police – Kailash, Shankar, Namo Meena and three others.
(Agency Inputs with Bureau Report).

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