Karnataka Temple 'Prasadam' Tragedy: Death Toll Rises To 14, Over 90 Hospitalised
In a temple at Chamrajnagar district of Karnataka, 14 people have died and over 90 are hospitalised after consuming toxic temple food offering-‘prasadam’.
The incident took place at the Kichu Maranda temple in Sulivadi village. The devotees under critical condition have been hospitalized across Chamrajnagar and Mysuru district. Five persons have been detained in this regard.
According to a district officer, some toxic substance may have got mixed with the religious offerings which led to food poisoning among devotees.
Reportedly, devotees complained that the prasad smelled like kerosene, however, they were told that the smell may be due to the leaves in the offering, an attendee of the temple ceremony said, as reported by Hindustan Times. Soon after, many of them had a stomach ache and started vomiting, said the district police. A district official told NDTV said that soon after, many of them had a stomach ache and started vomiting. He also said that they have collected samples to test at the regional forensic laboratory in Mysuru.
The offerings were distributed after the temple laying foundation ceremony, said the report. According to The Quint, the district-in-charge minister of Chamarajanagar C Puttaranagashetty, while quoting the health department officials said that as per the symptoms shown by the victims, suggest that pesticide might have been mixed with the prasadam.
Reportedly, approximately 80 crows and other birds that consumed the offering have also died.
Five people detained
So far, five people have been detained by the police. Superintendent of police, Chamarajanagar, Dharmendra Singh Meena, revealed the identities of three of the five men-Chinnappi, Madhesha and Mahadeva. The identities of the other two have been kept confidential.
SP Meena said that the three detainees were the administrators of the temple and two others were suspect, but did not speak about the charges levied on them.
Villagers allege foul play
Officials are searching alleged foul play in the incident. Also, villagers are alleging that factional feud between the temple authorities, trying to take control of the temple, led to the tragedy. They are urging the government to take over temple authority. However, SP Meena told The Hindu that there was no concrete proof to substantiate the claims, but added that the police is “investigating all angles”.
Kumaraswamy announces compensation
Chief minister H D Kumaraswamy announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh to victim’s families and have asked authorities to provide proper medical assistance to those who are affected.
“I came to know about this while I was returning from Belagavi. At first, I did not realise how serious it was. Our MLA, Puttaraju, went to the spot. There are reports that the food was deliberately poisoned. It is being tested. Action will be taken against whoever is behind this inhuman act”, said H D Kumaraswamy, as per NDTV.