Rajasthan Priest Burnt Over ‘Land Dispute’ Cremated, 2 Nabbed
CM Ashok Gehlot has condemned the incident.
Rajasthan priest Babu Lal Vaishnav who died on Thursday night, 8 October, after he sustained severe burn injuries during a scuffle over alleged temple land encroachment at Bukna village in Sapotra, Karauli district in Rajasthan, was cremated earlier on Saturday after his family relented and allowed the last rites to be performed.
The police have detained two people in connection with the crime and another three have been named in an FIR, reported NDTV.
Babu Lal’s family had refused to carry out the final rites till all their demands were met by the state government. Their demands included Rs 50 lakh compensation and a government job.
Om Prakash Meena, sub divisional magistrate of Karauli district, had rushed to Babu Lal’s village to convince the family to hold the funeral, reported NDTV.
Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot condemned the brutal act.
“The murder of Babu Lal Vaishnav Ji in Sapotra, Karauli is extremely unfortunate and condemnable, such acts have no place in a civilised society. Rajasthan government is with the bereaved families in this sad time. The main accused of the incident has been arrested and action is on. The guilty will not be spared,” Gehlot tweeted in Hindi.
The priest had alleged before the police prior to his demise that six people poured petrol and set the millet crops on the disputed site ablaze. Further he claimed that they also poured petrol on him and attempted to set him on fire.
However, citing Mridul Kacchwa, SP, Karauli, ANI reported that the priest had alleged that some influential people, including the accused and his sons, tried to encroach into his land and set a fence on fire on account of a dispute, which caused him grievous injury.
POLITICAL LEADERS REACT
Targeting Rajasthan government over the killing of Karauli priest, Union Minister GS Shekhawat said: “The attempt to burn the priest over a temple dispute in Karauli proves the disarray and state of confusion in which the Rajasthan government lies.
He said that according to the National Crime Records Bureau numbers, Rajasthan is one of the leading states in crime statistics.
BJP MP Kirodi Lal Meena stated: “I am in Bukna village of Saporta. It has been decided with the Panch-Patels of all castes of the village that the deceased’s family should get justice. Criminals should be severely punished. I have given financial assistance of one lakh rupees to the family of the deceased priest Babu Lal Vaishnav,” Meena tweeted in Hindi.
Congress leader Sachin Pilot condemned the killing of temple priest Babu Lal Vaishnav and said: “The ruthless killing was an inhuman act. Strict action will be taken against the culprits and they will be punished severely for this hate crime committed against humanity.”
Union Minister Prakash Javadekar targeted Congress leader Rahul Gandhi over the death of Rajasthan priest.
The Union minister said that Rahul Gandhi should take cognisance of such issues instead of going on ‘political tours’.
Slamming the Rajasthan government, the union minister said that “Rahul Gandhi should either ask the Rajasthan government to resign or make efforts for its betterment, they should take action against the culprits,” reported ANI.
BJP leader Rajyavardhan Rathore said: “Nobody is safe in Rajasthan, neither women nor children, not even priests,” reported news agency ANI.
Slamming the Rajasthan government, the BJP leader said that the Rajasthan government can stay in a five-star hotel for months but can’t protect the public.
He further attacked Rahul Gandhi and said: “I urge Rahul Gandhi, who indulges in political tourism to BJP-ruled states, to pay attention to Rajasthan,” reported ANI.
Rathore also stated that as per the data of National Crime Records Bureau, “Rajasthan stands at the first position as far as crimes against women are concerned.”
Condemning the brutal incident, former chief minister of Rajasthan Vasundhara Raje said that the way the crime graph is increasing in the state, it is clear that no women, children, old people, Dalits, businessmen are safe.
“The Congress government of the state should now abandon its deep slumber and bring justice to the bereaved family by punishing the culprits,” Raje tweeted in Hindi.
Criticising Rajasthan Police as well as CM Ashok Gehlot, BJP State President Satish Poonia said: “This case of a temple priest burnt alive proves that law and order system in the state has collapsed and criminals have no fear of the law. Rajasthan Police’s punchline seems to have now changed to ‘Apradhi Mast, Janta Trust’ under CM Gehlot.”
WHAT HAD HAPPENED?
According to NDTV, the land belonging to temple trusts is generally given to caretaker priests for their use in return for them conducting pujas and rituals in village temples. Such pieces of land are referred to as “Mandir Mafi” and provide a source of income for caretaker priests of village temples in Rajasthan
Karauli’s village priest, Babu Lal Vaishnav, had about thirteen bighas (around 5.2 acres) of land belonging to the Radha Krishna temple trust in a village in the district, reported NDTV. However, the land was given to the head priest to till as a source of income.
He wanted to build himself a house on a plot close to his land, reported NDTV. This plot is reportedly surrounded by a small hillock. In a bid to start the building process, he had the land levelled by an earth mover.
A group of people belonging to the dominant Meena community, however, objected to this development, claiming the land to be their own. The dispute was thereby reportedly taken to village elders who too, ruled in favour of the priest.
The priest thereby went and created a fence of his new harvest of millet on the land to mark his ownership, reported NDTV. This led to an altercation, as the accused started building their own hut on the land levelled by the priest. Eventually, the dispute intensified, resulting in the priest’s death from severe burn injuries.
While two people have been nabbed, six teams have been formed to probe the matter, reported ANI. Efforts are also underway to arrest the other accused in the case, reported ANI, citing the SP.
Rahul Prasad, Additional Commissioner, Law and Order told ANI:
“Relatives of the victim demanded ex gratia, we will send the proposal to government. They also want action against local police, alleging negligence. We have assured probe and action against cops in 24 hours, if guilty.”
Further, Priest Babu Lal’s relative Ramakant Sharma said he sought the suspension of police officials for alleged inaction and said “there’s anger in the entire Brahmin community”, according to ANI.
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