Mandya temple killings: 3 held after encounter

Police open fire after they tried to flee; two others had been arrested on Sunday

Three persons, accused of being involved in the murder of three priests of Sri Arakeshwara Swamy Temple in Mandya, were arrested after a dramatic encounter early on Monday.

The Mandya district police had arrested two persons on Sunday night. Three more were nabbed from their hideout at Sadolalu Gate in Maddur on Monday.

Based on information provided by the two persons arrested earlier, a police team, led by Maddur Rural Police circle inspector N.V. Mahesh went to Sadalolu Gate only to face resistance from the three accused who were holed up in their hideout. When the police asked them to surrender and fired in the air, the accused rained stones on the police and attacked them with machetes. The police, eventually, opened fire at the accused when they tried to flee. The accused suffered leg injuries and were taken into custody.

The accused were treated at Maddur Taluk Hospital and later admitted to Mandya district hospital. Police sub-inspector Sharat Kumar and constables Anil Kumar and Krishna Kumar, who also suffered injuries in the encounter, were provided medical treatment.

The accused arrested on Monday were identified by the police as Viji from Andhra Pradesh, Manja from Thoppanahalli village in Mandya, and Gandhi from Arekal Doddi village, also in Mandya. The two arrested on Sunday were Abhi and Raghu. Superintendent of Police, Mandya, K. Parashurama said the police are on the lookout for a few more persons in the case.

The accused are part of a gang of dacoits, who move from one place to another. “They are involved in other cases also, but hadn’t been arrested. Interrogation is on about their involvement in other cases,” he said.

A total of ₹1.73 lakh, which was part of the money looted from the temple hundis, had been recovered from the two accused arrested on Sunday. A bag, which had been recovered from the three accused on Monday, has been handed over to the Forensic Sciences Laboratory team.

Three priests of Sri Arakeshwara Swamy Temple at Guttalu, on the outskirts of Mandya, were found murdered early on Friday morning, sending shock waves across the town.

Ganesh, 55, Prakash, 58, and Anand, 40, were lying in a pool of blood on the temple premises. The culprits, who had crushed the heads of the priests with boulders, had taken away only the currency in the hundi boxes.

The Muzrai Department, under whose jurisdiction the temple falls, estimated that about ₹5 lakh had been looted from the hundi boxes of the temple. Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa, who had announced compensation of ₹5 lakh each to the families of the deceased, had called upon the police to arrest the culprits at the earliest.

Meanwhile, Mr. Parashurama went to the spot of the encounter on Monday and also visited the hospital in Maddur to enquire about the condition of the injured policemen. He appreciated their efforts in nabbing the accused.

Minister in charge of Mandya district, K. Narayana Gowda, complimented the police for their swift action.

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