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The incident took place in Andhra Pradesh’s Kakinada district on January 9.

CCTV footage of a man standing in front of an idol holding the trident belonging to the deity
news Arrest Tuesday, January 19, 2021 - 09:48

A man, who seemingly looks in an inebriated state, is seen touching the trident (trishul) of a deity at a local temple, unwittingly destroying it. This incident, which took place in Andhra Pradesh’s Kakinada district on January 9, was caught on the CCTV camera, which was installed near the temple as part of the state government initiative to avert instances of attacks on temples. 

The East Godavari district police, on Monday, arrested the man in the footage for damaging the tridents. The man has been identified as Vanumu Lakshmana Rao (39), a resident of Kondayyapalem in Kakinada, who is a butcher by profession. The police shared footage of an inebriated Rao dancing and talking to the goddess idols and touching the trident.

In another video captured by a CCTV camera from the left side, Rao raised his hand and pushed the idol's trident, resulting in its top part breaking.

He committed the crime on the night of January 9 at Sri Nookalamma Temple in Kakinada's Kondayyapalem. "He (Rao) was subjected to a thorough interrogation. The arrested accused has confessed to having committed this offence," said a police official.

According to the police, Rao borrowed his friend's bicycle and consumed alcohol. He later went to the temple, broke the tridents and went away. In the footage shared by the police, the bicycle is seen on the ground, and Rao is seen dancing, talking and breaking the tridents, even as passersby zipped by on the road. 

"About 6 am on January 10, the priest of the temple noticed that the two tridents outside the temple were partly broken," said the official. The cement idols standing on either side of the Nookalamma temple's entry door used to hold two tridents.

Following a complaint by the temple's committee president Karri Gangaraju on January 10, the police managed to arrest Rao on Monday. He was arrested under sections 447 (criminal trespass), 295 (injuring or defiling place of worship with intent to insult the religion of any class), 295A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class) and 153 A (promoting enmity between different groups on ground of religion) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

Incidentally, Rao abandoned his wife eight years ago and is a father of two boys who live with their mother at Indrapalem. Eking out a living as a butcher of goats and also as a labourer, Rao was known for sleeping at the very Nookalamma temple where he broke the tridents as well as Sarada temple in the port town.

East Godavari district Superintendent of Police Adnan Nayeem Asmi highlighted the need to install sufficient of CCTV cameras at all religious places.

With IANS inputs

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