An elderly priest has allegedly beheaded a 52-year-old man inside a temple premise in Odisha’s Cuttack district. The incident took place at the Brahmani Devi temple premises in Bandhahuda village in Narasinghpur police station area on 27 May night, following which the accused surrendered himself before the police.
Accused Sansari Ojha, 72, initially claimed he had performed human sacrifice to end the COVID-19 pandemic after being “ordered by the Goddess in his dream” to do so.
However, during interrogation, the accused confessed to having killed Saroj Kumar Pradhan in a fit of rage after Pradhan ate his dinner, said Cuttack Superintendent of Police R B Panigrahi.
Post visiting the village, over 100 km from Cuttack city, the SP said, “It was not a human sacrifice to curb the spread of COVID-19”.
Ojha and Pradhan, hailing from the same village, had old disputes and were ganja addicts. They used to often pick up quarrels over trivial issues, he added.
The accused stayed in the basement of the temple after leaving his family, while the deceased, a bachelor, often visited the temple at night and stayed there with Ojha, the officer said.
SP further told, “On Wednesday night, the two entered into a quarrel after Pradhan ate Ojha’s dinner. Enraged, Ojha picked up a sharp weapon lying nearby and beheaded Pradhan.”
A preliminary investigation reveals the accused was heavily drunk at the time of the incident. After committing the murder, he walked up to the local police station around midnight and after narrating various stories, conceded that he had murdered the man in a fit of rage, Panigrahi said.
Residents of the Bandhahuda village claimed Ojha had a long-standing dispute with Pradhan over a mango orchard in the village.
The priest has been booked under murder charges and the weapon used in the crime has been seized, the officer said, adding that the severed head and the body have been sent for post-mortem examination.