Two priests at a temple in Bulandshahr district Jagdish (55) and Sher Singh (45) were apparently hit with a lathi at Paguana village’s Shiva temple in Anupshahr police station area, police said.
According to Uttar Pradesh Police, Murari, also known as Raju, was accused by the sadhus two days ago of stealing a pair of tongs used by them.
The youth, allegedly under the influence of cannabis, was caught near the temple soon after the two priests were found dead in the temple.
Senior officers rushed to the spot and questioned the man, who told them that after taking bhang on Monday night he went to the temple and killed the sadhus with a lathi lying there.
According to one official, the intoxicated youth said he carried out God’s will, denying he had any quarrel with the priests.
The senior official said the youth will be interrogated at length later as he was still under the influence of the drug.
Villagers caught the youth when he was spotted roaming naked about two kiolmetres from the scene of the crime, police said. Some reports said he was carrying a sword and initially police said the two priests were hacked to death.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath directed strict action in the case as opposition leaders targeted his Bharatiya Janata Party government over the crime.
Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra also called for a through probe. “Today, two sadhus sleeping in a temple in Bulandshahr have been killed mercilessly. There should be a thorough probe into such heinous crimes and no one should politicise these incidents at such a time,” she tweeted in Hindi.
She claimed 100 people have been killed in Uttar Pradesh in the first 15 days of the month. She added the case should not be politicised.
Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav also said that such murders should not be politicised. “The brutal killing of two sadhus in the temple complex in Bulandshahr, Uttar Pradesh is extremely condemnable and tragic. Instead of politicising such murders, there is a need to look into the criminal motive or the root cause of such violent mentality, he tweeted.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray spoke to Adityanath, expressing concern over the killing.
Days earlier, Adityanath had made a similar phone call to him over the lynching of two sadhus in Palghar.
Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut called the killings terrible.
He appealed not to make the issue communal as they tried in Palghar, in a tweet seen as a jibe at Adityanath.