The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Priest accused of eve-teasing, beaten

Hazaribagh, June 20: A priest was today beaten up and paraded naked through the streets in apparent public outrage over a devotee’s eve-teasing complaint, but the mahant alleged land mafia, eyeing the 5-acre plot of the temple he oversees, was behind his humiliation.

Mohan Das, the mahant of Chota Akhara, one of the 150 ancient temples in Ichak, about 13km from here, was forced to leave town last month after a woman devotee, who had come to offer puja there, filed an FIR accusing him of eve-teasing.

But today, as soon as word spread that Das had returned — he got bail in the case against him — villagers gathered around the temple and began shouting slogans against him. Soon, the mob dragged him out, tore his clothes off and beat him up with rods.

The mob then stripped him, put a garland of shoes around his neck and paraded him around the local marketplace. By the time the police arrived, Das was bleeding profusely. He was then moved to the Hazaribagh Sadar Hospital.

Deputy superintendent of police Naushad Alam didn’t rule out the possibility of land mafia being behind today’s assault, but conceded that there was an FIR accusing Das eve- teasing.

Alam said he had told the mahant that until the controversy was resolved he should stay away from Ichak. Nevertheless, the DSP vowed to arrest the culprits of today’s assault based on an FIR filed by Das.

Das, who has in-charge of the temple for the last 15 years, alleged he was under pressure from a group of people who were eyeing the 5-acre plot of the temple complex.

“Since the temple is in the main market, the land is prime property. I am the only one objecting to their evil designs. And because I did not give in to them, a false case of eve-teasing was lodged against me,” he said in hospital, but did not name his alleged tormentors.

Ichak, on the Ranchi-Patna highway, is known for its ancient temples, believed to have been built by the erstwhile king of Padma, a neighbouring town, in the 18th century. The temples were now being run by a trust and many priests were still getting a monthly salary from the royal family.

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