The DGP said that in the past four months, 337 people have been arrested and 180 cases filed against people suspected in cases of temple vandalism.

DGP Gautam Sawang during an official meeting
news Controversy Wednesday, January 13, 2021 - 15:52
Andhra Pradesh Director General of Police (DGP) Gautam Sawang expressed displeasure over comments made by the Leader of Opposition N Chandrababu Naidu, alluding that he was not acting on cases of temple vandalism in the state owing to his religion. Naidu had alleged that Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy, Home Minister M Sucharita, the DGP and several district police superintendents are Christians and therefore were negligent towards these cases.
“I have never heard these words in the 34 years of my services,” the DGP said at a press meet on Wednesday. He also called the comments by Naidu ‘detestable’ and ‘very unfortunate.’

A statue of Lord Rama, located on a hillock near Ramatheertham village of Nellimarla mandal in Vizianagaram district was desecrated on December 29, leading to the Opposition parties intensifying their campaign against the government.

Responding to the Ramatheertham incident, the DGP clarified that the idol was not in the main temple which was given additional security with 32 cameras following a recommendation from the police department. In the aftermath of the Antarvedi incident that took place in September, where a temple chariot was burnt, police conducted a security audit of 58,871 temples in the state and installed CCTV cameras at several places.

As part of this vigilance, the Ramatheertham temple was also surveyed and mapped. During this, 16 additional cameras were installed in the temple premises.

The DGP said that the desecrated idol was on a hillock, two kilometers away from the main temple. “Though it was an old structure on the hillock, in our security audit, there was a recommendation to install cameras, but that could not happen because there was no power connection there. Just three days before the incident, an electricity line was laid and four cameras were about to be set up, but before it could be installed, the incident took place,” the DGP said.

Lauding the efforts of the police, the DGP said that in the past four months, 337 people have been arrested and 180 cases filed against people suspected in cases of temple vandalism. The police said that after mapping and geo tagging places of worship, 43824 cameras have been installed in13089 places.

Over 4,000 people suspected in idol theft cases and accused involved in communal violence have also been rounded up, the DGP said. The biometric details of all the suspects have been freshly recorded so that police can trace them, the DGP said. Along with them, seven interstate-treasure hunting gangs have also been rounded up.

As alleged by the Opposition, the cases of temple and deities did not dramatically increase under the Jagan Mohan Reddy government, police said.

The data of temple offences suggest the same. In 2016 (under TDP), 207 temple offences were recorded. In 2019 and 2020, when the Jagan government was in power, 177 and 143 offences were recorded respectively.


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