Police clueless about killing of sadhus
PERVEZ IQBAL SIDDIQUI (TIMES NEWS NETWORK)
LUCKNOW FRIDAY, APRIL 02, 2004.: As many as 18 sadhus have been brutally murdered in and around Jaunpur district in the last twelve months,triggering panic among the priests inhabiting the 300-odd temples in the region. And while the body count continues to rise, the police remain as clueless as it was when the first priest was killed over a year back.
Nobody knows why the sadhus are being routinely targeted. One theory suggests this as the handiwork of a maniac on the prowl. Another plausible explanation of these mysterious murders is the element of superstition vesting with a particular criminal tribe which believes that if their baton (branch of a tree which they use as a club) is smeared with a sadhu's blood it brings them 'good luck' in future acts of crime. The police, however, have dismissed this insinuation as folklore.
"Such a coincidence is unlikely... But then it is a 'coincidence' after all," says Jaunpur ASP Atul Saxena, who was associated with the investigations into most of these murders. Coincidence or not, there certainly is a method in the madness: The modus-operandi — use of batons and boulders to smash the victim's head and sharp-edged weapons for inflicting injuries which were found on the bodies.
Another startling common element was that the accused killed or nabbed by the police were Musahir tribals. This had led to much bad blood in the sadhu samaj, and the latter categorically clarified that the Musahirs were innocent. The sadhus had even staged a dharna outside the district magistrate's office and last Friday local lawyers launched a similar agitation to attract the attention of the state government.
The police, however, maintained that in an encounter they gunned down three criminals involved in the murder of Ram Janki temple priests Baba Bajrang Das and Baba Ramapati Patel at Ramnagar Basra village in Zafrabad police circle. One was Arvind Musahir - a listed gangster and the others were yet to be identified. But sources said that one of them was a labourer Rajiv Musahir of Dandiya police circle. Sources alleged that despite Rajiv's mother identifying the body, it was not handed over to her as the police insisted that he was not Rajiv.
The police also claimed that the motive in that particular case was robbery, but failed to explain why the miscreants left behind Rs 3.5 lakh in cash lying in a trunk inside the room where the two priests were murdered. This trunk was opened almost a month after the murder. Union minister of state for home Swami Chinmayanand, who is the local MP, recently said that the state government should seek the help of the Central government and that he himself would recommend any move for a CBI probe.
However, ASP Saxena says, "in two cases the accused were arrested and booty recovered, establishing that robbery was the sole motive behind the killings."