Four people, including a junior seer of a prominent Lingayat Mutt in south Karnataka, were arrested Wednesday for allegedly poisoning the food served as prasad to more than 200 people at a temple in Chamarajanagar district last week, police said.
Fifteen people have died and at least 100 others are undergoing treatment after they consumed tomato rice served as prasad at Kichugutti Maramma temple of Sulavadi village in the district on December 14.
Inspector General of Police (southern range), Karnataka, K V Sharath Chandra told The Indian Express that president of Kichugutti Maramma Temple Trust and Lingayat seer Pattada Immadi Mahadevaswamy, manager of the Trust Mahadevaswamy, his wife Ambika and their associate Doddaiah have been arrested for allegedly poisoning the food prepared at the temple. The Kichugutti Maramma Temple Trust runs the Maramma temple.
“There was an internal feud among the members of the Trust for its control. The seer (Pattada Immadi Mahadevaswamy) wanted complete control over the Trust, which was being resisted by others. The conspirators decided to teach the Trust members a lesson and did not mind sacrificing a few innocent people in the bargain. This was the motive behind the poisoning,” the IG said. Pattada Immadi is a junior seer of the Salur Mutt located on Male Mahadeshwara Hills in southern Karnataka.
Investigations have revealed that Trust manager Mahadevaswamy, Ambika and Doddaiah were among the first few people to reach the temple on December 14 morning and engage in food preparations.
During interrogation, Ambika is reported to have told the police that the seer had instructed her to poison the food being prepared to be served to devotees after a foundation stone laying ceremony for a temple tower – the tower was reportedly being constructed under the initiative of another Trust member, Chinnapi, who was earlier detained by the police in the case, but was later released.