The Ghaziabad police on Wednesday arrested six persons in connection with the murder of a priest (mahant) at a temple in Nehru Nagar.
The police said motive for the murder was to loot the temple money and also allow another mahant to take control of the temple.
On the intervening night of April 28 and 29, mahant Nasik Giri was tied up and then strangled to death at his quarters inside the temple. The body was found the next morning.
During investigation, the police got clues that several men has barged into the temple, located 20 metres from Nasirpur police post under Sihani Gate police station area in Ghaziabad.
“The five men were sent by the victim’s nephew Pappu Rajbhar, who is a regular at the temple. He told the gang that his uncle was in possession of nearly Rs 20 lakh-Rs22 lakh. One of the accused told us that Pappu told them that another priest in their area wanted Nasik Giri dead in order to take control of the temple,” said HN Singh, senior superintendent of police (SSP), Ghaziabad.
The accused persons, Pappu, Deepak Mishra, Avadh Ram Mishra, Ashok Puri, Tribhuvan and Dinesh Kumar Passi, hail from Bahraich and Shravasti districts and were known to the victim.
“On the night of the incident, we barged inside the temple complex and went upstairs in search of money. Later, the priest woke up and began shouting for help. At the same time, a train was passing behind the temple (the railway track is nearby) and we caught hold of the victim. His shouts were muffled by the sound of the passing train and we strangled him. However, we could not find any money in his room. Thereafter, we took a train to our native places,” said Avadh Ram Mishra, one of the accused, told HT.
The police said Pappu, the key conspirator, had stayed home in Bahraich at the time of the incident.
“We are also trying to ascertain the role of the other priest, who also hails from Bahraich, the same district as the victim. In case his role comes to light, he will also be arrested and made an accused in the case,” SSP added.