A temple priest, the prime suspect accused in the rape-murder of a 50-year-old woman in Badaun district in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, was arrested on Thursday night, officials said. Police had offered a cash reward of INR 50,000 ($680) for his arrest.
According to the police, the priest identified as Satyanand, was hiding at his follower's house in a village where the heinous crime took place.
"He was about to flee the village when the locals apprehended him. They handed him over to the police," District Magistrate Kumar Prashant told Sputnik on Friday.
Satyanand had moved to Badaun district from Bareilly district around seven years ago and used to live in the temple.
Police registered a case on the basis of the complaint filed by the victim’s family, stating that the woman had gone to the temple on Sunday afternoon but did not return.
"Later, in the night, the priest along with his two aides brought her body to her house and informed them (family members) that she'd fallen into the dry well located in the temple premises and they left after sharing this," the complaint read.
On Monday, the body was taken for a post-mortem examination.
"The autopsy report confirmed rape and showed injuries to private parts. The woman suffered a rib fracture and her left lung was also damaged because of heavy force. She even had a fractured leg," a senior police official from Badaun district told Sputnik.
The priest's aides were arrested on Tuesday night. Meanwhile, a team from India's state women's organisation, the National Commission for Women (NCW) also met the family members of the woman on Thursday.
State Chief of Uttar Pradesh Yogi Adityanath has directed the authorities to take the strongest legal action against the accused and asked senior police officials to submit a report.
The State's Special Task Force has been instructed to assist in the investigation.
The authorities have suspended the Station House Officer (SHO) (local in-charge of police) of the area for dereliction of duty. The district magistrate has announced an ex-gratia of 1 million ($13,635) for the family of the deceased.