LUCKNOW: Two 'sadhus' were allegedly stabbed to death by unidentified persons inside Bhayanak Nath Mandir in the Bidhuna area of Auraiya district on Wednesday. Another sage, who was also injured in the incident, is in critical condition, said the police.
Lajja Ram (65) and Halke Ram (53), residents of Bakewar, Etawah, were found lying in a pool of blood with multiple stab wounds on their necks and other body parts inside the temple in Kudarkot area under Bidhuna police station. The third priest, Ramsharan (56), was also found with serious injuries.
The trio was rushed to the district hospital, where Lajja Ram and Halke Ram were declared dead upon arrival. Ramsharan was later shifted to Saifai hospital, said police.
"The incident took place around 3 am, when three 'sadhus' (Hindu monks) were attacked by unidentified men," said Additional Superintendent of Police, Auraiya, Rajesh Kumar Saxena.
"They (sadhus) were tied to a charpoy and attacked. Two of them were killed," Circle Officer, Bidhuna, Bhaskar Verma said.
Violence erupted after the news of the sages' death spread. A mob set several shops ablaze, pelted stones and brickbats, forcing the police to fire in the air, said law enforcement authorities. Following a large deployment of security personnel, the situation was brought under control.
The exact motive behind the crime was not immediately clear, police said adding they suspected the victims' opposition to cow slaughter could be one reason, reported news agency PTI.
"People were generally complaining that the area where the murders took place was witnessing cases of cow slaughter and the victims were opposing it. That could be a possible motive behind the attack," the IG said. Two cops have reportedly been suspended.
Investigation has been launched into the matter.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has directed top officials including the Principal Secretary (Home) and the state DGP to take action against culprits within 48 hours.
Adityanath also announced an ex-gratia of Rs 5 lakh each to the kin of the two deceased sadhus and Rs 1 lakh for the injured monk, an official spokesman said in Lucknow.
Special surveillance teams were sent to Auraiya from Kanpur to assist the local police in cracking the case and in dealing with rumour-mongers, officials said.
Auraiya is around 180 km from Lucknow and falls under Kanpur police zone
With agency inputs