Himansu Shekhar Rout

Police on Sunday cracked the mystery behind the murder of the priest at Budhi Thakurani Temple in Koraput town and arrested seven people including two women.  

Addressing the media, Koraput SDPO Shrabani Nayak said, “We examined the crime scene on the temple premises. All belongings and articles were found scattered all around the place.  Circumstantial evidence led us to suspect that it could be a case of murder. And accordingly, we were carrying out our investigation.”

She added that informants were employed and local investigation was also done to delve into the matter. “During the investigation, we came to know that two women used to come to the priest’s house for work, but they had stopped coming there.  Hence we turned our focus on the two – Saraswati Jani and Rama Gouda of Hatapada and Ratha Sharma colony respectively in Koraput town. The two were put to grilling and thereafter, the entire gang involved in the crime was arrested,” she said. 

"The seven people had entered the temple to loot valuables and tied the hands and legs of the elderly priest Ramesh Chandra Tripathy. They had also covered his head with a piece of cloth as a result of which the priest died of suffocation," she added.

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Police seized cash worth Rs 15,000, gold and silver jewelleries, six cell phones, one burnt mobile, and a bunch of keys from the accused.

The SDPO said that the motive of the accused was to loot the valuables, but they had decamped with the valuables after covering the head of the priest with a piece of cloth and tied his legs and hands. 

Police had recovered the body of the priest under mysterious circumstances in the wee hours of November 8. The priest’s body was in semi-naked condition.