Tussle Between Karnataka Temple Factions Over Revenue Could be Motive Behind Poisoning: Police
Police said revenue sharing had led to factions within the temple management and one of the groups had even knocked on the doors of the court on the matter.
A crying boy being consoled by his grandmother after his mother died of suspected food posioning at Bidarahalli, near Sulawadi village in Chamarajanagar district of Karmnataka, on Dec 15, 2018. (PTI Photo)
Bengaluru: Three days after 14 people were killed and over 100 fell ill after consuming poisoned Prasad at Chamarajnagar district’s Maramma temple, police on Monday said a tussle among factions in the temple over its revenue may have led to the incident.
Nine people were detained on Monday in connection with the poisoning of the ‘prasad’ and six have been named in the FIR. Two people — Chinnapi and Mahadev — were arrested on December 14.
Temple cooks Eranna and Puttaswamy as well as temple manager Madesh and Lokesh were also detained. An FIR has been registered under IPC 304 (Punishment for culpable homicide not amounting to murder) and IPC 34 at the Ramapura police station.
"We are probing every possible angle and we have taken nine people into custody. We are verifying all the statements and confessions made by the detainees to reach a logical conclusion. The FSL report as well as the vomitus samples that were sent to the DPHL Lab show positive signs of monocrotophos. Our investigation is still under progress" Dharmendra Kumar Meena, Chamarajnagar SP, told News 18.
Prima facie, reports suggest that a tussle over the temple’s revenue could be one of the motives for the poisoning. The Maramma temple, which was governed by the Sulwadi temple trust, had gained prominence in the past few years, which helped bring in good revenues. Police said revenue sharing had led to factions within the temple management and one of the groups had even knocked on the doors of the court on the matter.
Investigations were underway to ascertain the exact reason for the crime. "It appears that the food was laced with 'organo phosperous' insecticide (Monocrotophos)," IGP Southern Range, Sharath Chandra said. "We are moving fast in the investigation. About four teams with 10-13 officials are investigating the matter,” Chandra said.
The 'prasad' samples which were sent to Central Food Technology Research Institute (CFTRI) Mysuru are being examined. CFTRI Director Dr Raghav Rao confirmed to News18 that the samples had been received.
The district commissioner has dismissed the temple’s management committee and has recommended the state Muzrai department to take over the administration. In the background of this tragedy, the Murzai department has issued a new circular prohibiting temples from distributing prasad/food without prior permission from the local authorities. It has also asked all temples that come under its purview to install CCTVs in kitchen or distribution areas.
On Friday, over 100 people fell ill after consuming the 'prasad' that was distributed after the foundation laying ceremony of the temple gopura. Five were declared dead when brought to the hospital, while 100 others were admitted to various hospitals across Mysuru, Mandya and Chamrajnagar. After consuming the offering, people started to vomit and complained of stomach pain. The affected people said there was a smell of kerosene oil in the prasad, but they ignored it.
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