In a conspiracy by a temple priest and a few other men in Uttar Pradesh’s Gonda district, the priest hired a professional shooter in order to fake an attack on himself. Police say the intention to fake the attack was political.

Seven people including the temple’s chief monk and village headman have been arrested for assaulting the priest. Priest Atul Tripathi was injured in the staged attack and was rushed to the King George Medical College Hospital in Lucknow and admitted there for treatment. After the priest is discharged from the hospital, he will be arrested as well, said the police.

The police claimed that Sitaramdas, the village headman, the village head and the injured priest had planned to carry out the attack.

The incident had given rise to a huge roar from the public and the state government faced intense criticism. Ayodhya saints also camped in the district and demanded immediate action against those responsible.

In a joint press conference, District Magistrate Nitin Bansal and Superintendent of Police Shailesh Kumar Pandey said that Mr Das was shot and injured on the night of October 10 at the Sri Ram Janaki temple in the village.

A case of attempt to murder was filed against Sitaramdas, a Mahant of the temple, a former village headman Amar Singh and his associates, two of whom were arrested the next day. Amar Singh has still not been found.

The district police chief said that five teams were formed to investigate the case and based on electronic evidence, witness statements and other inputs, seven accused were arrested on Friday while trying to get a hold of the last person who has still been reported to be AWOL.

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