Day after priest shot dead, Junagadh observes bandh, sadhus take out rally

A day after a priest was shot dead in Junagadh, the town observed a bandh on Saturday as thousands of agitated sadhus took out a rally and staged dharna in front of collector office in protest of the incident that has sparked anger among different religious groups including members of Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Bajrang Dal.

On Friday, Rambharti Bapu, a priest of Khetaliya temple, was shot dead near Zanjarda village following a land related dispute. He was allegedly shot by Jusab Allarakha, a history-sheeter recently came out of jail in a murder case of his brother-in-law and by five other people.

The incident triggered anger among the religious sects who took out a rally after performing the last rites of the deceased and stormed collector office. Locals said the town was also shut down following the bandh called by several religious groups. They said deceased priest's aide lodged an FIR against Allarakha and five others at Taluka police station.

"A group of sadhus stage dharna at collector office demanding immediate arrest of the accused. We assured them that the accused will be arrested as soon as possible. We requested them to give a time frame which they are refusing. However, the situation in the town remained peaceful and the bandh passed without any untoward incident," said Dipankar Trivedi, Superintendent of Police, Junagadh.

According to police, prima facie the reason behind the murder is a land located on the highway which is worth in crores. Rambharti Bapu had bought this land sometime back which is said to be half of the market price. However, the owner of the land was allegedly demanding more money.

"The main accused Allarakha doesn't have any stake in the land deal but may be he was hired as a henchman to extract money from the priest. The accused is hardened criminal who is involved in at least three murders including a police constable in Ahmedabad couple of years back," police said.

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