Police in Uttar Pradesh’s Gonda district said on Saturday that the case of a priest being shot had turned out to be fake, and that he had staged the incident in order to frame his rivals.
Mahant Sitaram Das and Mahant Samrat Das, the police said, hired shooters from Madhya Pradesh to execute the plan. Seven people have been arrested in the case, including Sitaram Das. Samrat Das, however, is under police observation as he is undergoing treatment in Lucknow after being shot at.
The arrested shooters confessed that the priests hired them to stage the incident.
Speaking to media in Gonda on Saturday, Superintendent of Police Shailesh Kumar Pandey said, “Police teams were formed under the leadership of ASP Mahendra Kumar to arrest the accused and investigate the case. During the investigation, it was found that village head of Tirraanorama Vinay Singh and temple’s Mahant Sitaram Das had conspired jointly to stage the attack.”
The SP further said, “The temple has about 120 bighas of land, whose dispute was going on between the Mahant and one Amar Singh, who had recently come out of jail. At the same time, Village Pradhan Vinay Singh wanted to implicate Amar Singh to strengthen his hold in the upcoming panchayat elections. Among the conspirators are two sons Suraj and Neeraj of Vinay Singh besides Munna Singh of Tirremanorama, Shivshankar Singh, Suraj Singh, Mahant Vrindaran Tripathi alias Sitaram Das and Vipin Dwivedi and priests Samrat Das alias Atul Tripathi, resident of Rewa, Madhya Pradesh.”
The Gonda SP further informed that a case has been registered against the accused. Mahant Sitaram Das, Pradhan Vinay Singh, Munna Singh, Vipin Dwivedi, Sonu Singh, Shivshankar Singh and Neeraj Singh have been arrested. Suraj, the son of the village pradhan, is yet to be arrested. Five mobiles, three cartridges and cartridges have been recovered from them.