Police had to use tear gas after a group of people protesting against the murders turned violent
The Uttar Pradesh police have another 24 hours to solve a case in Auraiya district, where two Hindu priests or sadhus were stabbed to death and another was left injured inside a temple by unidentified people on Sunday morning, triggering mob violence in the area.
Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has ordered the suspension of the police station in-charge and given them time till Saturday to solve the crime.
The priests were tied to their beds, and they appeared to have been stabbed multiple times, the police said. Auraiya district, 180 km from Lucknow, continues to remain tense and reports suggest schools and colleges in the area are closed.
The police say they are investigating allegations that the priests were murdered because they were campaigning against cow smuggling in the area.
The police had to use tear gas and fire in the air after a group of people protesting against the murders turned violent.
“The third priest is better now. He is being treated at the local medical college. We will be able to find out the reason for the murders only after investigating the matter,” senior police officer Alok Chandra said.
“The situation is fine now. Some people have told us that there have been killings of cows in the area and the priests had spoken up against it; that could also be a reason. We are looking at that angle too,” Mr Chandra said.
Kanpur range senior police officer Avinash Chandra said the priests were found lying in a pool of blood with multiple stab wounds on their necks and other parts of their body inside the Bhayanak Nath temple in Kudarkot, under Bidhuna police station.
“They were tied to a charpoy and attacked. Two of them were killed,” said Bhaskar Verma, circle officer of Bidhuna town.
Infuriated at the killings, a group of people attacked shops, set some of them on fire and threw stones, forcing the police to fire in the air.
The dead priests have been identified as Lajja Ram, 65, and Halke Ram, 53, residents of Bakewar and Etawah. Another priest, Ramsharan, 56, received serious injuries, the police said. A resident of Bidhuna, he was shifted to Saifai hospital, they said.
Around a dozen police teams headed by senior officials were formed to investigate the murders. Special surveillance teams were sent to Auraiya from Kanpur to help the local police in cracking the case and in dealing with rumour-mongers, officials said.