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TN cops arrest Kanchi shankaracharya

November 12, 2004 00:58 IST
Last Updated: November 12, 2004 03:21 IST

Kanchi Shankaracharya Jayendra Saraswati was on Thursday night arrested in connection with a murder case.

The 60-year-old pontiff of the Kanchi Matth, whom the opposition parties in Tamil Nadu accused of having considerable clout over the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam government, was arrested at around 2200 IST in Mehboobnagar in Andhra Pradesh by a special team from Tamil Nadu.

Also read: Interview/Kanchi Shankaracharya

Shankaracharya Jayendra SaraswatiThe pontiff was being "brought to Chennai to be produced before Judicial Magistrate - 1, Kanchipuram", a brief statement issued by I K Govind, director general of police, Tamil Nadu, said.

The victim, Sankararaman, was manager of the Varadaraja Perumal temple in Kanchipuram. He was killed on September 3, 2004.

The arrest was understood to have been made on the basis of statements made by five people held in connection with the case.

The arrest was preceded by a lot of drama. A police team, comprising commandos, first went in a Cessna aircraft to Bangalore on information that he was there. But they later left for Hyderabad and went to Mehboobnagar by road to arrest him.

The shankaracharya was at that time performing a 'Trikal Puja'.

Accompanied by an Andhra Pradesh police team, the TN team explained to the shankaracharya the case and took him in custody.

There were reports that the shankaracharya's brother and another person had also been arrested, but there was no confirmation.

The murder issue had become a political controversy with the main opposition party, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, announcing an agitation while accusing the government of inaction despite information about the persons involved in the murder.

In the politics of Tamil Nadu, dominated by Dravidian parties espousing rationalist policies, Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa was accused of taking the shankaracharya's advice in running the government.

The shankaracharya, who has considerable influence with political leaders, was in the limelight in the last two years of the National Democratic Alliance rule, acting as a mediator between Muslim leaders and Hindu organisations in the Ayodhya issue.

He had created a controversy around 10 years ago by disappearing from the matth. He was later traced to Coorg district in Karnataka.

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