A 70-year-old priest has been arrested in Odisha for allegedly beheading a man, believing that the killing will end the coronavirus pandemic.
The 55-year-old was beheaded in the premises of the temple on Wednesday night, the police said.
Police officials said that Sansari Ojha is a priest at Goddess Brahmani temple in Bandhahuda area of Narasinhapur block in Cuttack. Ojha claimed he was ordered to carry out the beheading the the goddess in order to bring an end to the pandemic, the police said.
On Wednesday night, when the victim Saroj Kumar Pradhan visited the temple and was bowing before the goddess, Ojha came up from behind and rained blows on Pradhan’s neck with a scythe.
Sub-Divisional Police Officer (SDPO) of Athagarh, Alok Ranjan Ray, said that the accused priest later surrendered to the police and confessed to committing the murder.
“During interrogation he admitted to the murder claiming it was ordered by the goddess,” said the SDPO. The police, however, said that the priest had a long-standing dispute with the deceased over a mango orchard on the outskirts of the village.
The murder weapon has been seized by the police.
Odisha, meanwhile, reported 67 new cases of Covid-19 on Thursday. The state’s tally now stands at 1,660, according to the state health department.
Of the new patients, 65 had recently returned to the state from various parts of the country and were in different quarantine centres across districts, while two others were detected with the infection as a result of the contact-tracing exercise, the health department said.