Andhra temple crimes not linked: DGP

DGP Gautam Sawang
DGP Gautam Sawang

Andhra Pradesh DGP Damodar Gautam Sawang on Monday said that crimes reported from different temples across the state were isolated ones and not linked in any way.

He claimed that 12 of the 19 temple attack cases since the Antarvedi Sri Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy temple chariot blaze had been cracked.

“Bounty hunters, criminal elements, people with superstitious beliefs, and others were found involved in crimes at temples in Andhra Pradesh, which registered the lowest such cases in 2020, compared with the past five years,” the DGP said.

“All these are standalone incidents — each one has a different motive. Various other attacks were executed by gangs hunting for treasures supposedly hidden under idols. Therefore, all these incidents have different motives and are completely unrelated,” Sawang added.

The DGP was reacting to allegations that Hindu temples were deliberately targeted in the southern state.

“Rather, aggressive attempts seem to be on to link all these incidents to give a spin to the narrative, which is wrong,” he said.

Presenting statistics on temple attacks in Andhra, Sawang said 228 cases were identified in 2020, which were lower than the previous years.

In 2019, when Andhra witnessed change in ruling party from Telugu Desam Party (TDP) to YSRCP, the state witnessed 305 cases involving temples.

During the TDP regime, the state saw 290 cases in 2015, 322 in 2016, 318 in 2017, and 267 in 2018, indicating that the temples were reporting damage in some form or the other through attacks or elements of nature or bounty hunters, the DGP reasoned.

Political parties such as the TDP, Bharatiya Janata Party and Janasena are attempting to corner the state government on ‘rising’ attacks on temples.

Even on social media, targeted propaganda is occurring relentlessly.

Commenting on the latest ‘Nandi’ idol sacrilege in a Chittoor temple, Sawang said police had sent a notice to the temple management and was investigating it from all possible angles.

“We have mapped a total of 47,593 places of worship in Andhra Pradesh, of which 28,567 are temples. Only 10 per cent have CCTVs,” he said, elaborating on security at religious places.

Police has issued notices to temple authorities to take measures like surveillance cameras, increased illumination around the complexes etc for security.

“A comprehensive social audit of all these structures has been completed. The department itself has installed CCTVs at over 880 locations. The police have ‘bound over’ 8,204 persons who had committed similar offences in the past six years,” the DGP asserted.

The DGP requested the state’s people not to get carried away by false propaganda.

“I request people not to get carried away and should focus on facts. If any citizen has any concern or information, I request him or her to approach the police. I personally assure that we will respond promptly and look into the matter,” he said.


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