Mumbai, May 20 (PTI) A priest at the over 900-year-old Vitthal-Rukmini temple at Pandharpur in Solapur district of Maharashtra, was today suspended for allegedly assaulting a devotee.

“The priest Ashok Bhadage, stands suspended. We cannot tolerate such violent behaviour within the temple premises,” Solapur district Collector Rajendra Bhosale told PTI.

Bhadage had allegedly slapped a devotee Dattatray Suse earlier this week, when the latter was about to garland Lord Vitthal’s idol in the temple.

The temple, a favourite of the Warkari sect in Maharashtra, attracts over two crore devotees a year. During the Hindu month of Ashaadh, lakhs of ‘Warkaris’ and other pilgrims from across the state walk to the temple.

The Supreme Court in its verdict on January 15, 2014, stripped Brahmin families (Badve and Utpat) of their right to appoint priests and keep the donations. The families had claimed ancestral rights over the temple.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.