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Karnataka: After Forensic Test Finds 'Pesticide' in Prasad, Cops Suspect Temple Seer's Hand in Poisoning

Forensic test has confirmed presence of organo phospate, called monochrotophos, in the prasad served at Karnataka temple that killed 15. The chemical found in a variety of pesticides — has been banned around the world, but is available in India.

Stacy Pereira | CNN-News18

Updated:December 20, 2018, 1:57 PM IST

Bengaluru: The Ramapura police on Wednesday took four people into custody, including the Temple trust president Junior Seer Mahadevaswamy, for allegedly poisoning the prasad served at Maramma temple that claimed the lives of 15 devotees at Sulavadi village in Karnataka’s Chamarajnagar district.

Seven people, including those from the temple trust committee, were named in the FIR filed under section 304 of the IPC. It has come to light that the prasad was allegedly poisoned with pesticides.

A newspaper report quoted IG (Southern Range), Karnataka, K V Sharat Chandra as saying that it has been confirmed in forensic test that there was presence of an organo phospate, called monochrotophos, in the prasad. "The tests have not revealed the quantity of the insecticide that was present in the food," he said.

Monochrotophos — found in a variety of pesticides — has been banned around the world, but is available in India. It is known to be severely toxic for humans, animals and birds.

Primary investigations revealed that an internal rift between two of the temple factions could possibly be the reason behind the crime. Sources claimed two factions had formed within the management committee — one led by Seer Mahadevaswamy and Manager Madesh and the other was led by Trust members Chinappa, Neelakantha, Shivanna.

The conflict arose regarding the revenue-sharing model used at the temple.

In the past few months, the revenue of the temple had increased manifold and the Trust had a surplus of Rs 34 lakh in its account. As per reports, the Junior Seer wanted to build a ‘gopuram’ (an ornate entrance tower at the entrance of a temple in Dravidian architecture), however, the estimated cost exceeded one crore.

The exorbitant cost led to initial disagreements but soon a decision was taken to go ahead with the plan and that the remaining money would be collected from the devotees.

However, Seer Mahadevaswamy had allegedly gone ahead and given the contract to one of his relatives.

The temple decided December 14 as the foundation laying ceremony for the ‘gopuram’ after which, ‘prasadam’ was distributed to all the devotees present at the function.

The junior seer was, however, not present at the event.

Investigations suggest that the plan was hatched by Seer Mahadevaswamy, along with Madesh and his wife, in order to bring a bad name to the second faction and supari was reportedly offered to a man named Doddaiah in order to “do the job”.

On that day, Doddaiah, a native of Nagercoil, had allegedly come to the temple on the day of the commission of the crime along with Madesh.

When people started taking ill, Doddaiah too got himself admitted to the hospital “in order to avoid suspicion.”

The police have also detained Doddaiah, Madesh and his wife and cook Puttanaiah for questioning.

However, the cook himself has been hospitalised in Mysuru and has lost his daughter Anitha in the incident.

The police said that with all the clinching evidence the case will soon be cracked.

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| Edited by: Ahona Sengupta
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