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Saturday, May 18, 2024

Two more temples vandalised in AP, police announces ‘high alert’

Two more incidents of temples being vandalised and murtis desecrated have come to light from Andhra Pradesh on Sunday, both hate crimes being reported from Vijaywada.

A murti of Maa Sitamma was found broken in the morning at a temple near Vijaywada bus station, while a murti of the navagraha deity Ketu was vandalised at Sivalayam at Vuyyuru on the city’s outskirts.

Devotees sitting with the damaged murti of Maa Seethamma in temple near Vijaywada bus station (Source: Times of India)

These two incidents come on the back of vandalism of murtis at four temples across the state in just the last one week, with one of the most painful being the decapitation of the 400-year-old Sri Rama murti in Ramatheertham temple of Vizianagaram district.

As per estimates, 120 attacks on temples have been reported during the last 19 months since the present YSRCP government was sworn in.

Andhra Pradesh Director General of Police (DGP) D Gautam Sawang has sounded an alert across the state following this series of attacks and desecration of murtis at Hindu temples. He has directed DIGs, Commissioners, Superintendents of Police, Deputy SPs and the Station House Officers (SHOs) to step up vigil at temples.

Police is asking all temple management committees with notices to install CCTVs. However, this raises the question of how small temples located in remote corners will arrange the funds for this exercise – this is something which can be easily arranged using funds of large temples like Tirupati which are controlled by the state but large portions of their donations and assets are siphoned off for secular causes to bolster government finances.

Till date, no one has been arrested for these crimes, and some ruling party leaders have brushed aside the hate crimes by projecting them as mere accidents or the acts of mentally unbalanced persons. Others like YSRCP MP V Vijayasai Reddy and municipal administration minister Botcha Satyanarayana have blamed a TDP-led opposition conspiracy to ‘defame the government’.

In an apparent bid to defend the Jaganmohan Reddy government, the DGP claimed that in 2020, about 228 cases of attacks on temples were registered in Andhra Pradesh, compared to 305 cases in 2019, 267 in 2018, 318 in 2017, 332 in 2016 and 290 in 2015. But this data lays bare the utter apathy of the secular state towards Hindu temples – if even a fraction of these attacks had occurred against churches or mosques, government would have been scrambling to arrest culprits and defending themselves against world powers.

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