Bulandshahr: The death of two Hindu ascetics in Bulandshahr’s Pagona village has left the residents grieving, for more reason than one. They say they couldn’t even properly process the murders, before they found themselves having to dispel rumours of this being a communally motivated crime.
The two sadhus — Jagan Das, 55, and Sher Singh, 32 — were sleeping in a room behind the Shiva temple they managed, when a man named Raju alias Murari allegedly hit them on their heads using a broad stick at 10:30 pm Monday night. The two died on the spot.
“Raju has been arrested and we have filed an FIR under Section 302 (murder) against him. He has also confessed to his crime,” Bulandshahr Senior Superintendent of Police Santosh Kumar Singh told ThePrint.
The two men were laid to rest inside the temple courtyard hardly a few feet away from the scene of murder.
The incident comes days after two sadhus and their driver were lynched in Maharashtra’s Palghar district, which took a communal colour before Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh released a list of the 101 people arrested for the crime and said both the accused and the victims were from tribal communities.
Sadhus buried as ‘Mahatmas are not cremated’
The two murdered sadhus were buried Tuesday in a ceremony that saw the participation of several hundreds residents of the Pagona village.
“Mahatmas aren’t cremated. They are buried with their belongings,” Bhagwati Devi, mother of Sher Singh told ThePrint.
The sadhus, originally from Aligarh, had moved to the village years ago. While Jagan Das had been living here for 18 years, Sher Singh joined him six years ago.
“They were loved by everyone here. They were extremely amiable,” said Prabhas Chand, a resident of Pagona village who came to attend the burial.
Despite enjoying a cordial relationship with most of the village, the two got into a heated argument with Raju Sunday over a chimta (a pair of tongs).
“He stole their chimta, and when they confronted him about it — he got angry. It’s now being learnt he threatened them and also wrote abuses on the road in front of the temple,” SSP Singh said.
Residents said Raju was “perpetually under the influence of drugs”.
“He was always drinking bhang, or smoking drugs. He didn’t have much of an equation with anyone here,” Chand said.
The police said he was mentally unstable and was high on drugs when they apprehended him. “He kept saying this was God’s commandment. I believe he is mentally unstable,” Singh said, adding Raju spent the night near the temple after committing the murder.
The body of the sadhus was first spotted by a local passerby around 7 am the next day. On initial inquiry, the villagers alerted the police about the argument Raju had with the sadhus a day before, which led them to question him.
A Dalit village
Pagona village is located in Anupshahar region of Bulandshahr. The village has a 2,000-2,500-strong population, and a majority of the people are Jatavs, a Dalit caste.
Both the sadhus as well as the arrested man belonged to the Jatav community.
“There are hardly any Muslims here. Even the few there are, co-exist very peacefully with Hindus,” said Suresh Singh, a local villager.
The villagers also said they have been making appeals to everyone coming to the burial to not make this a Hindu-Muslim issue.
“Hindus and Muslims have lived here with a lot of love. It’s important for everyone to not let any bad elements communalise this tragedy,” said Prishipal Singh, a farmer.
The police confirmed that there wasn’t a communal or a caste angle to the crime.
“We are habituated to see everything from a Hindu-Muslim lens or a caste lens. Neither of which are true in this case,” SSP Singh said.