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Friday, December 8, 2023

Series of attacks on temples in Andhra Pradesh triggers outrage

A series of incidents of vandalism of Hindu temples in Andhra Pradesh has triggered public outrage and demands from the opposition parties for stringent action even as Chief Minister Y. S. Jagan Mohan Reddy promised that the desecrations will not be tolerated.

In the latest incidents Bhagwan Subrahmanya’s murti in Sri Vigneshwara temple in Rajahmundry was found in a desecrated condition while Sri Komalamma Paadaalu on Paderu Ghat road in Visakhapatnam agency area were found damaged on Friday. Police has registered the cases and initiated the investigations.

The vandalism is suspected to have taken place on the intervening night of December 31 and January 1. The latest incidents came to light even as the desecration of 400-year-old murti of Bhagwan Ram in Ramatheertham temple of Vizianagaram district triggered tension.

The priests of Sita Lakshmana Kodandarama on Tuesday found the doors of the ancient temple broken. The murti in the sanctum sanctorum was beheaded and the severed portion was recovered from the nearby pond the next day. Police have formed five teams to probe the incident and nab the culprits.

These are not the only incidents. Last week, Bhagwan Krishna temple in Darsi town was desecrated. Devotees lodged a complaint after finding flesh inside the temple and blood stains on the walls on December 22. Police said it was an act of mischief by a drunk man, and not by any political party or group.

In September a ‘Nandi’ murti was vandalised in a temple in Chittoor district. The police suspect that the vandals had broken open the murti after rumours that gold had been poured into the murti.

A century old chariot parked at ancient Antarvedi Lakshmi Narasimha Temple premises in East Godavari district was found burnt in suspicious circumstances. Strongly condemning the incidents, opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have blamed YSR Congress Party government for its sheer negligence.

The BJP called for ‘Chalo Ramatheertham’ programme on Friday to protest against the repeated desecration of temples. The incidents led to a war of words between ruling and opposition parties.

YSR Congress Party Rajya Sabha member Vijay Sai Reddy said he suspected the role of TDP president N Chandrababu Naidu in the Ramatheertham incident. He alleged that the TDP leaders resorted to the act in a bid to divert the attention of the people.

Cabinet minister Botcha Satyanarayana rubbished the allegations that Hindu temples were under threat during the YSRC regime and slammed the BJP for making baseless allegations against the government for political gain. “Is not Rama our God? Do BJP leaders even know where the temple is?” he asked.

BJP secretary and state co-incharge Sunil Deodhar warned that Jagan Mohan Reddy government will have to pay huge price for desecrations. “Defacing Hindu deities continue in Andhra Pradesh. Now it’s Bhagwan Subramanya murti in Rajahmundry. But the anger of Hindu devotees is falling on deaf ears. Who’s trying to undermine sentiments of Hindus? The ignorant state government will have to pay a huge price for this,” he said. He stated that every attack on temples in the state is testing Hindus’ patience.

Jagan Mohan Reddy government is failing in arresting culprits while tacitly showing love for a particular religion. After the beheading of the murti in Vizianagaram district, Deodhar had alleged that Jagan Mohan Reddy government’s inaction shows its tacit support. He termed the beheading of the sacred murti as ‘horrific’. “Authorities have not arrested anyone responsible for attacking Uttarandhra Ayodhya temple so far,” he said.

The BJP leader compared the incident with the Taliban’s destruction of giant Buddha statues in Bamiyan and called on people to condemn the desecration. “Repeat attacks on Hindu temples in Andhra Pradesh are reminiscent of actions of 16th century ruthless St. Xavier in Goa who destroyed temples and carried out forced conversions & Taliban’s destruction of giant Buddha statues in Bamiyan,” Deodhar tweeted.

Chandrababu Naidu said that nobody is safe under YSRCP rule. “The spate of attacks on temples itself had proven that even God isn’t safe in Andhra Pradesh,” said the former Chief Minister. He claimed that over 120 attacks took place on temples during the last 19 months and over 23 murtis were demolished recently in six temples at Pithapuram.

Jana Sena led by actor-turned-politician Pawan Kalyan demanded CBI probe into the series of incidents of attacks on temples, desecration of murtis and destruction of temple chariots.

Rebel MP of YSRCP K. Raghu Ramakrishna Raju has written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, urging him to depute a central team to investigate incidents of attacks on temples and ‘bring to book the culprits including the functionaries of the government in the state.’

He wrote that there have been over 100 attacks on Hindu temple in the state and in recent days decades old chariots were burnt down in three temples. He alleged that members of Hindu organisations protesting vandalism were brutally arrested and assaulted and not allowed to come on the roads even in limited number under the garb of corona.

The MP wrote that not a single person has been arrested for this wanton vandalisation of sacred murtis and other symbols such as decades old chariots belonging to important temples and in one of two incidents apprehended were passed off as insane and warranting no action.

Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy on Thursday said perpetrators of attacks on temples will not be spared and directed police to take stringent action against the vandals. He termed the destruction of murtis atrocious and said god will certainly punish those who keep messing with temples and murtis . He directed the police to step up surveillance to prevent attacks on temples.

(The story has been published via a syndicated feed with minor edits to conform to HinduPost style guide.)

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