Police say that feud regarding rights over temple's revenue led to the tragedy.

Forensics find potent insecticide mixed in Ktaka temple prasadam that left 14 dead
news Death Monday, December 17, 2018 - 14:57

After 14 people were killed by the poisoned prasadam at Chamarajanagar's Kicchu Maramma Temple, the forensic report concluded that there was insecticide in the food sample, investigating police said on Monday.

According to IGP (Southern Range) Sharath Chandra, monocrotophos, a kind of organophosphate, was found to be present in the food sample submitted to the Forensic Science Lab and the Central Food Technological Research Institute (CFTRI). "The insecticide was mixed in the water used to cook the rice," IGP Sharath Chandra said.

On the afternoon of December 14, over 100 devotees fell sick after consuming the prasadam at the Kicchu Maramma Temple in Sulwadi village of Chamarajanagar. Eleven people succumbed on Friday and three more died in the subsequent days.

Speaking to TNM, Dr Alok Srivastava, head of the Department of Food Safety and Analytical Quality Control, CFTRI, said that the insecticide had affected the nerve fibres of the patients' neuro muscular junction.

"Monocrotophos is an extremely hazardous insecticide. It can affect people through contact with the skin and it is worse when it is ingested into the body. It is a kind of organophosphate which causes muscles in the body to stop working," Dr Alok said.

Dr Rajesh Kumar, superintendent at the Krishna Raja Hospital in Mysuru, where several victims are being treated said that all the patients who were brought in showed similar symptoms, which led them to conclude that they were suffering from organophosphate poisoning.

"Their pupils were smaller. Their heart rate had dropped drastically, there was nausea and in those patients who were critical, they had respiratory problems as well. We gave them atropine, which is the antidote given for insecticide poisoning or organophosphate poisoning," Dr Rajesh added.

The probe

Police suspect that the poisoning was the result of a dispute between authorities who manage the temple. "We have reason to believe that the suspects had mixed the insecticide with the intent to scare rival factions within the temple's management. The temple's trustees and day-to-day managers had a long-standing feud with the trustees. The main issue was that each factions wanted the profits all to themselves. The temple's revenue is very high and draws devotees from both Tamil Nadu and Karnataka."

Police also noted that, "the insecticide was mixed in the water with the intent to dilute it and scare the rival faction." The suspects may have assumed that the water dilution would lessen the potency of the poison, police said.

According to the police, over two months ago, the trustees had cut off electricity supply to the temple due to the fight. "One of the trustees was also beaten up by the locals two months ago. The fight has been going on for years now," the Rampura Police told TNM.

Investigators have so far detained seven people in connection with the crime and an FIR has been registered under section 304 (culpable homicide amounting to murder) and common intention (34).  

Hanur MLA R Narendra told the media that he would urge the state government to take over the temple's management. Chamarajanagar Deputy Commissioner BB Kaveri has also sent a letter to the Muzrai Department stating that the government must take over the management of the temple.

"The district administration will issue guidelines that temples will have to follow regarding the distribution of prasadam. Guidelines are necessary to ensure that the food served is safe,” she added.


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