- The 5.2 acre land was given to priest by a temple trust in the village
- Another group had claimed the land as their own
- The village elders had ruled in favour of the priest
A priest in Rajasthan's Karauli district, round 177 km from state capital Jaipur, died due to burn injuries after he was attacked by a group of people over a land dispute.
The priest had about thirteen bighas (around 5.2 acres) of land which belonged to the Radha Krishna temple trust in a village in the district. But the land was given to the head priest to till as a source of income. Lands like these, which belong to temple trusts, are generally given to caretaker priests for their use in return for the fact that they perform the pujas and carry out rituals in village temples.
Such lands are called "Mandir Mafi " and are a source of income for priests who are caretakers of village temples in Rajasthan.
But this land became the source of a dispute in Rajasthan's Karauli.
The village priest, Babu Lal Vaishnav, wanted to build a house for himself on a plot close to his land which is bordered by a small hillock. In order to start construction, he had the land levelled by an earth-mover.
Another group of people from the dominant Meena community objected to this and claimed the land as their own.
The dispute was taken to the village elders who ruled in favour of the priest.
The priest then went ahead and placed bales of his newly harvested millet on the land as a sign of ownership.
But the accused allegedly started building their own hut on the land that the priest had levelled.
This led to an altercation. The priest, whose statement before the police has been recorded, said six people poured petrol on his bales of bajra (millet) which were lying at the disputed site and set it on fire on Wednesday. He claimed they also poured petrol on him and tried to set him on fire.
Suffering burn injuries, the victim was rushed to Jaipur's SMS Hospital where he died on Thursday evening.
Senior police officer Harji Lal Yadav told NDTV, "The post-mortem is being done right now of the body. We have registered a case of murder and we have also taken the prime accused, Kailsah Meena, into custody."
The six people named by the priest in his statement to the police are Kailash, Shankar, Namo Meena and three others.