After questioning several people for five days, the police finally arrested four people, including junior pontiff of Salur Mutt in Male Madeshwara Hill Immadi Mahadevaswami, 52, in connection with the prasada poisoning case, on Wednesday.
The police produced Mahadevaswami, temple trustee Madesha, 46, his wife Ambika, 35, and Doddaiah Thambadi, 35, of Sulvadi village, before the court in Kollegal.
Addressing a press conference here, Inspector General of Police (Southern Range) K V Sharath Chandra said Mahadevaswami (accused number one), who had lost hold over the temple management, managed to mix pesticide in vegetable bath, with the help of the other three accused. The bath was distributed among devotees of the Kichchugutti Maramma temple on Friday, on the occasion of the foundation stone laying ceremony of the temple gopura.
According to the police, Mahadevaswami wanted to take revenge against temple trustee Chinnappi, Neelakanta Shivacharya Swami of Hondarabalu Mutt and others as they went against his wish in installing the gopura. The police had earlier taken Chinnappi into custody for questioning.
The IGP said all the suspects have confessed to their crime. Ambika, also accused number 2, and Mahadevaswami are residents of Shagya village in Hanur taluk and they were in an illicit relationship, it is said. Mahadevaswami used to visit her house often and had also given a house to the Ambika couple at Martagalli near Sulvadi. Mahadevaswami had appointed Madesha as the temple manager eight years ago.
The IGP said Ambika had purchased two bottles of pesticide through her relative, also an agriculture officer in Hanur, 10 days ago. As the news of poisoning spread, the officer called Ambika over the phone and had asked her whether she had laced the prasada with pesticide, to which she replied ‘yes,’ said the IGP.
Among the arrested, Doddaiah had been admitted to KR Hospital as he was pretending to be sick. While others were writhing in pain, he kept calm. This raised suspicion among the doctors. His blood samples were collected and sent to the lab for testing. Test results confirmed that there were no traces of chemicals in his blood. The doctors alerted the police, who started monitoring Doddaiah, disguised as hospital staff.
On Monday, the doctors discharged him from the hospital. The police took him into custody when he was walking out of the hospital.