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Varanasi
Monday, May 23, 2022

Another Hindu priest killed in Bihar, 13 murtis worth crores stolen from temple

Mahant Gorakhnath Das was killed by thieves on Monday night who also stole 13 murtis of Hindu deities and jewelry adorning the deities from an ancient Ram-Janki temple in Saran district, Bihar.

The elderly priest’s body was found on his cot the next morning by a helper who comes daily to clean the temple. On receiving information about the incident, the local police and DSP Muneshwar Prasad Singh reached the temple in in Aphaur village, Nagra police station area and initiated an investigation. They sent the priest’s body for post-mortem.

The stolen murtis made of ashtadhatu (octo-alloy) were estimated to be worth crores of rupees. The thieves likely intended to steal all such 14 murtis from the temple but a small murti was found lying on the ground which might have fallen when the accused were fleeing the spot.

Jewelry adorning the deities was stolen along with other murtis made of precious metal (Source: NBT)

There is great unrest in the area over spiraling crime. Two jewelry chops were also looted in the preceding days. Locals, especially traders, have alleged that police and administration is least bothered about providing security and are busy extorting bribes from sand and liquor mafia. A protest was organized demanding speedy investigation of this and other cases, and improved security.

In its barebones, 123-word report on this shocking crime, Aroon Purie’s India Today (archive link) has not even bothered to provide the murdered priest’s name and there are no photos either.

This murder and dacoity comes on the back of a staggering sequence of murders and assaults on Hindu priests in Bihar alone, in recent years. We list some cases below, almost all of which sunk without a trace in English-language ‘national’ media –

March ’22: 70-year-old paralysed priest Kashinath Pandey was shot by unknown miscreants at a Hanuman temple in Buxar district

October ’21: Kankali temple head priest Rajiv Kumar Jha was shot dead by goons in Darbhanga. He had complained to police earlier about the same goons, but no action was taken.

April ’21: Two priests, Hira Das and Anand Mishra, of Dharoharnath Mahadeo Temple at Khirhar on the outskirts of Madhubani town were beheaded. The temple was also desecrated and valuables stolen.

December ’20: Priest Arun Pandey was brutally killed in West Champaran district while returning from a pooja on his cycle.

September ’20: Naxal terrorists kidnapped pujari Neeraj Jha in Lakhisarai district – they killed him and dumped his body in a jungle.

January ’15: Priest killed, precious murtis stolen at Rahua Math in Muzaffarpur district.

Murti theft is also endemic in Bihar: June 2021: 4 precious idols estimated to be worth a few crores stolen from Thakurbari Mutt located in Patna city; Feb 2021: Murtis worth over Rs 2 crore stolen from Muzaffarpur temple; March 2018: 7 antique murtis worth Rs 50 lakh stolen from a temple in Samastipur district; January 2016: 14 murtis worth Rs 1 crore stolen from Vaishali district – at that time, a senior police official said that 200 murtis of different Hindu deities were stolen from different temples and maths of Bihar over the last five years!

The pan-Bharat view is even scarier…such murders of priests/sadhus, and temple attack/theft/desecration are reported almost daily. 90-year-old priest Baba Govind Das was murdered by slitting his throat by one Chaman (no last name provided in media reports) in Gurugram for ‘disrespecting’ his ancestor’s tomb.

See Indian Express‘ dismissive report of that crime – they chose to put the word ‘killing’ in scare quotes in their headline – these quotation marks are placed round a word or phrase to draw attention to an arguably inaccurate use, to subtly cast doubt and convey scepticism.

The same English-language media went ballistic in 2015 with a ‘Christians under attack’ narrative when a few stray incidents of vandalism by drunks, fire due to short-circuit and petty theft occurred in some Delhi churches in 2015. The Hinduphobia/Hindumisia, indeed the utter contempt for Hindu sensitivities, among large swathes of our nation’s English-speaking elites is very-very real.

The fast deteriorating law & order situation in Bihar is also very real. BJP MLAs are right in calling for the UP model of crime control to be deployed here, and for CM Nitish Kumar to crack the whip.

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