Hazaribagh, Oct. 7: An 83-year-old office-bearer of a religious body was gunned down at the gates of a Parasnath Hills temple this evening, triggering panic among pilgrims at the Jain holy site, 35km from Giridih district headquarters.
Prakash Chandra Sharma, the general manager of Digambar Bharat Varshiya Jain Tirth Committee, was shot from point-blank range by three unidentified men as he left a religious function that was being attended by thousands of pilgrims.
Sharma was shot as he stepped out of the Bimal Sagar Maharaj temple in Madhuban around 5pm. According to eyewitnesses, the assailants first fired upon the octogenarian, then hit him on the head with a shovel before fleeing from the spot.
Sources said Sharma served on the same post for 15 years before he went away to Delhi, where his family lives. He returned two years ago to take up the job again.
“At the time of murder, 10,000 pilgrims were in the temple attending the function. Within an hour, the premises and the roads leading to the temples were deserted,” said another office-bearer, adding that the victim was not known to have any enemies.
Officer-in-charge of Madhuban police station Francis Xavier Bara said investigations had started and the killers would be nabbed soon. He said the body had been sent to Giridih Sadar Hospital for post-mortem and an FIR would be lodged soon.