New Delhi: In a late-night crackdown on Thursday, the Uttar Pradesh police arrested the priest who is the main accused in the grape-and-murder case of a 50-year-old anganwadi worker in Badaun.
District magistrate Kumar Prashant told news agency PTI on Thursday midnight that mahant (priest) Satya Narayan was hiding in the house of his follower in a village under the Ughaiti police station, from where he was picked up.
He was arrested and was being interrogated by a police team, the magistrate added.
On January 3, the 50-year-old woman who had gone to a temple was found dead under mysterious circumstances. Her family members have accused the temple priest and his aides of raping and murdering her.
A case was registered against the accused and two of them were arrested on Tuesday night, while the priest had been at large.
The post-mortem report has confirmed rape, according to the police.
The two men who were arrested on Tuesday maintain that they found the woman in an injured state and dropped her at her home to ‘help’ her. The victim’s family rejected this claim, saying if they wanted to help, they could have woken up people in the village. “But their intention was to leave her dead…. She was a God-fearing lady; we cannot imagine something like this would happen to her in a temple,” her son-in-law said, according to the Indian Express.
The incident, the latest among a series of crimes against women reported in Uttar Pradesh, caused a political uproar. Opposition parties accused the Uttar Pradesh government of failing to on the issue of women security.
Even as opposition parties and civil society members raised such concerns, a National Commission for Women (NCW) member blamed the victim on Thursday, saying the incident could have been “avoided” had the 50-year-old not ventured out alone at night. Ironically, Chandramukhi Devi was part of a two-member NCW team that was at the woman’s village to look into possible inaction on the part of the local police.