A temple mahant (head priest) and another priest were beaten to death in Uttar Pradesh's Aligarh district on Sunday night, triggering protest by the locals, as per several reports.
The incident took place at a Shiv temple which lies between the villages of Milik and Bijauli under the Shekhupur Satkana village panchayat. The area is believed to be deserted and even houses an ashram built over 7-8 bighas of land.
Mahant Kalidas and a priest Sonpal were living at the temple for the last 20-25 years, as per a report in Hindi daily Hindustan. The Mahant, Sonpal and another priest from an adjoining village named Mahendra were sleeping in a room constructed above the temple on Sunday night.
Deep into the night, unidentified men climbed the temple wall and barged into the room. The assailants allegedly then proceeded to brutally beat the residents using sticks and bricks. The priests cried for help but failed to get help in time.
The villagers finally reached the spot at about 3 am but Kalidas, 75, and Sonpal, 50, were unfortunately dead, and Mahendra was battling for his life. They called the police, but an alleged delay in their arrival angered the villagers who initially refused to let the police touch the bodies and demanded senior officials be called. Mahendra Singh was later admitted to the district medical hospital.
As per a report by Amar Ujala, two theories are doing the rounds. One, the attackers may have entered the premises with an aim to loot. Second, the attack could be the result of a dispute over 36 bighas of land adjoining the temple.
A Dainik Jagran report said that it was the third such incident in two days in a temple in the area.
The murder follows a spate of incidents in various parts of Aligarh where temples have been vandalised and idols desecrated. In Dhauri village, Durga idols were found broken last month.