After the mysterious death of Lakshmivara Theertha, the former pontiff of the Shiroor Mutt in Karnataka, the police say that they are yet to find any motive for murder. Eight teams have been deployed to probe all angles in the case.
Speaking to TNM, an investigating officer said that even after interviewing people related to the seer, his acquaintances and the members of the Mutt, the police are unable to zero in on why the pontiff could have been murdered.
"The autopsy may say that it is poisoning, but we cannot base an entire case on the post-mortem report. We have to wait for the forensic science lab to send us the results. Only after the FSL report comes will we be able to tell if the poison was accidentally consumed or it was an act of premeditation. We cannot simply make arrests and accuse people of murder without proper evidence," an investigating officer said.
The FSL report will be given to the doctor in KMC Manipal who performed the autopsy, and he will submit a conclusive report to the investigating team. Police sources say that the report is expected within a week.
Meanwhile, security at the Mutt has been extended and the digital video recorders containing the CCTV footage have been sent to the Regional Forensic Science Laboratory in Bengaluru.
The silver, gold and other valuables found in the Mutt are being kept by the representatives of the Sode Math, police said.
Police officials also said that a section of the media had been carrying false news regarding the case. "They (media) showed a poison bottle and claimed that it was the bottle from which the poison was given to the seer. How did they get that information? With them showing the poison bottle, they will become part of the case. If the media reports these kinds of things, they will be obstructing the course of the investigation. Full details will be revealed only after the probe is completed," an investigating officer said.
Lakshmivara Teertha Swami, the 30th head of the Shiroor Mutt in Udupi, passed away in the morning of July 19. Late on the night of July 18, the seer was rushed to hospital with symptoms of food poisoning.
The hospital raised suspicions of Lakshmivara being poisoned, with the official statement saying, "There is suspicion of poisoning and toxicological samples have been sent. However, his condition continued to deteriorate rapidly in spite of the best efforts of the medical team.‚ÄĚ
One of the members of the Mutt, Ramya Shetty, who was trying to escape in a burkha was detained by the police on July 21. However, the police say they have not found any motive for murder and had to let Ramya go after questioning.
A digital video recorder had also gone missing from the mutt on July 19, the day the seer died. The tapes were found in a river on July 24 after the police conducted a thorough search.
Several theories have since emerged about the death of the seer. The seers of the Ashta Mutts (eight mutts) in Udupi are at loggerheads over the custody of the ‚ÄėPattatu Devaru Vittala‚Äô or ‚Äėpresiding deity‚Äô. The seer's lawyer had suggested that since Lakshmivara had filed a petition with the court for the custody, it could have been the motive to kill the seer.
In March this year, a Kannada news channel released a clip in which a voice purportedly of Lakshmivara Theertha called out corruption at the Ashta Mutt. In the video, the voice claimed the he (the seer) has children, and alleged that pontiffs at other Mutts too had children and families. Further, he also threatened the Pejawar seer Vishvesha Teertha Swami.