Key accused in rape-murder case, Badaun temple priest held

The priest, identified as Satyanand, was hiding in the house of one of his followers in a village from where he was picked up and arrested.

Four days after a 50-year-old woman was allegedly gang-raped and abandoned outside her home at a village in Uttar Pradesh’s Badaun district, the local temple priest, the main accused in the case, was arrested from a nearby village in the district late on Thursday, the police said.

The priest, identified as Satyanand, was hiding in the house of one of his followers in a village from where he was picked up and arrested, PTI reported, quoting District Magistrate Kumar Prashant.

Dropped outside her house on Sunday night, allegedly by the priest and two associates, the woman later died in hospital due to excessive bleeding.

The two other accused were arrested on Wednesday. A day later, three UP Police constables were deployed outside the temple.

A local resident said the victim was known to visit the temple regularly, but no one could say what had transpired on Sunday. The temple is situated close to the main village road, near a sprawling farm. Satyanand, the local residents said, lived in one of the rooms inside the temple.

Local residents said Satyanand had come to the village around five years ago, and largely kept to himself.

“People knew him since many come here from nearby areas. But until this incident, no one really interfered in the temple’s activities or asked much about the priest. We sometimes saw him outside the temple premises, but his visits were limited,” Nandu, a local resident, said.

People who visited the temple said Satyanand offered to conduct rituals for them in the temple. He reportedly also offered concoctions for aches and pains.

“The two men arrested maintain that they found the woman in an injured state and wanted to help her. I carried out an inspection of the crime site, and as per evidence we are treating it as a case of gangrape and murder,” Badaun SSP Sankalp Sharma said.

The woman’s family rejected the arrested duo’s assertion. Her son-in-law said, “If they wanted to help, they could have woken up people in the village. But their intention was to leave her dead…. She was a God-fearing lady; we cannot imagine something like this would happen to her in a temple.”

Women shouldn’t step out alone in the evening: NCW member

National Commission for Women member Chandramukhi Devi, who visited the village on Thursday, said the incident would not have happened had the woman not stepped out alone in the evening. “This is a crime that has shamed humanity, but I would also like to say that women should not, under the influence of anyone, step out untimely,” she said. “I feel had the woman not stepped out in the evening, or one of her children had accompanied her, the incident would not have occurred.”NCW Chairperson Rekha Sharma said, “I don’t know how and why the member has said this but women have the right move on their will whenever and wherever they want to.” —ENS

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