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Last Updated: Monday, 20 December, 2004, 10:49 GMT
Hindu temple murder suspect held
Saraswathi flanked by security guards at a magistrates' court in Kanchipuram
There have been angry protests over the cleric's arrest
Police in southern India have arrested one of the main suspects in the case of the killing of an official at a Hindu temple in Tamil Nadu state.

Krishnaswamy, also known as Appu, was held in Andhra Pradesh state on Sunday.

A leading Hindu cleric, Jayendra Saraswathi, is also in custody in connection with the killing. He denies charges of murder and conspiracy.

Police allege that the cleric ordered the killing and Krishnaswamy hired hitmen to carry it out.

Krishnaswamy appeared in a magistrate's court on Monday in Kancheepuram in Tamil Nadu state, where the case is being heard.

The court handed him into police custody for three days of questioning.

The alleged hitmen were arrested several weeks after the murder of the official, Sankararaman, in September.

Jayendra Saraswathi

Police say another suspect, Ravi Subramaniam, is still at large.

Sankararaman is reported to have written anonymous letters accusing the cleric of various misdemeanours.

They included embezzlement of gold procured for making a temple chariot, and providing lavish lifestyles for the seer's relatives.

Jayendra Saraswathi heads one of the five seats of Hinduism in India, and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has asked police and prison officials to handle the case sensitively.

His arrest has outraged supporters. Some have launched hunger strikes and taken part in violent protests across the country.

India's main opposition group, the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, has demanded his case be heard outside Tamil Nadu to, as they put it, ensure justice.

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