- The sadhus, 55 and 35, were killed with a sword last evening
- Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has asked for strict action against killer
- Accused had allegedly been raging since the priests accused him of theft
The murder of two sadhus inside a temple at Uttar Pradesh's Bulandshahr has snowballed into a political controversy days after two sadhus were killed by a mob in Maharashtra.
The sadhus, 52 and 35, were killed on Monday night, allegedly by a man they had berated and accused of theft. A man called Raju has been arrested and charged with murder, the police said.
"Raju said he had bhang (cannabis) and went into the temple and murdered the priests. We asked him about reports he attacked the sadhus with a sword but the accused claims he only used lathis," Ravindra Kumar, a senior government official, said.
"The accused claimed it was the will of God," Mr Kumar told reporters.
The Uttar Pradesh police have denied any communal angle in the murders. The accused man was still "high" and would be questioned when he was coherent, a police officer said.
"The two babas lived here at the temple. One person named Murai alias Raju, who belongs to a scheduled caste, took away a ''chimta'' (tongs) for which he was scolded and abused by the priests. After the murder, villagers were looking for him and spotted him drugged with bhang," a senior police officer, Santosh Kumar Singh, said.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has asked for a report on the killings.
He was among the BJP leaders who had demanded an inquiry after the mob-killing of two Sadhus in Maharashtra's Palghar, which, a section suggested, was a communal attack.
Maharashtra's Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress coalition had denounced what it called attempts to whip up tension in the middle of the coronavirus crisis. The Sadhus and their driver were attacked and killed by a mob on April 16 allegedly over rumours that they were involved in the kidnapping of children for organs. State Home Minister Anil Deshmukh said 101 people were arrested for the killings and not a single accused was Muslim.
Despite the Maharashtra government's emphatic denial of any communal link, several BJP leaders raised questions. Home Minister Amit Shah called Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and asked him to take tough action.
Yogi Adityanath had also dialed his Maharashtra counterpart and later told the media that he had called for strict action.
Today, Uddhav Thackeray returned the call. "Have spoken to Yogi Adityanath over phone and discussed the incident. I told him we are with you against such a heinous crime. Just the way we acted upon and nabbed the accused, I wish you would do the same and avoid giving this a communal angle," Uddhav Thackeray tweeted.
Many Sena leaders have tweeted on the killings, warning against giving it a communal twist.
"Terrible! Killing of two saints, sadhus at a temple in Bulandshahar, UP, but I appeal to all concerned to not make it communal the way they tried to make Palghar, Maharashtra incident," tweeted Sanjay Raut.
Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra tweeted that the UP killings should not be politicized and the accused should be punished.