The state police and endowments department officials have been unable to find the cause for the fire that destroyed the chariot in the wee hours of Sunday.

Collage of Antarvedi temple chariot on fire (left) and file image of chariot being used in a procession (right)
news Controversy Friday, September 11, 2020 - 08:10

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy has decided to hand over the probe into the Antarvedi Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy temple's chariot burning incident in East Godavari district to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

The Chief Minister's Office said in a release that CM Jagan has taken the issue seriously. 

“The Chief Minister has taken the matter of arson at the temple seriously and when the State police have been trying their best, there was criticism from political and other groups casting aspersions on the State government in mainline and social media spreading falsehood,” the statement said. 

In the interest of transparency, based on the demands of some political parties, the CM has instructed the DGP (Director General of Police) to hand over the case to the CBI, the statement said. Accordingly, the DGP wrote a letter to the Union Ministry of Home Affairs, it added.

The 60-year-old wooden chariot of the Antarvedi temple was gutted in a mysterious fire in the wee hours of Sunday. The 40-feet high chariot made of teak wood was parked in a shed on the temple premises.The chariot was used during processions on special occasions and temple festivals. 

The state government has since placed the temple executive officer under suspension over the incident, and constituted an inquiry committee headed by the Endowments Additional Commissioner.

Opposition parties BJP, TDP and Jana Sena blamed the state government for the chariot burning incident. The controversy has also acquired religious hues, with some groups alleging lackadaisical attitude on behalf of the Jagan Mohan Reddy-led government in safeguarding Hindu temples.

State Endowments Minister Velampalli Srinivasa Rao alleged that the chariot burning could be a conspiracy by the opposition parties to tarnish the government image.

On Wednesday, state BJP president Somu Veerraju visited the temple to take stock of the developments. He followed it up with a sit-in protest in the Rajahmundry BJP office, and called on BJP supporters to do the same at their homes amid the pandemic.

With IANS and PTI inputs 

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