Unidentified miscreants damaged an idol of lord Rama at a hilltop temple in Nellimarla mandal of Andhra Pradeshâ€™s Vizianagaram district. According to official sources, the incident could have happened late on Sunday night after the closure of the temple for the day. The idol was situated at the Bodikonda Kodandarama temple on a hilltop near Ramatheertham village. Miscreants allegedly broke open the lock of the temple and "separated" the head of lord Kodandaramudu from the bust.
The idol was in the temple, which is said to have a 400-year history, along with idols of Sita and Lakshmana. While the main temple is at the foot of the hill, the temple in which the idol was damaged was on the top of the hill. The same priest looks after regular rituals in both the temples. The incident came to light when the priest visited the temple on Tuesday morning to offer regular rituals. The temple staff immediately informed the local police.
Police clues teams reached the spot and collected evidence and special teams have been formed to nab the culprits. According to police officials, the investigation is being conducted from all possible angles.
Speaking to TNM, District Superintendent of Police (SP) Raja Kumari said, "The incident could have happened following the closure of the temple on Monday. It came to our notice yesterday (Tuesday). Unidentified miscreants separated the head of lord Rama's idol. We have not yet found it. Teams are working on the case."
When asked about a potential motive behind the damage of the idol, the SP said, "The incident isn't appearing like an accidental one, but rather as an intentional one. However, at the moment, we can't conclude about what intentions were involved."
Meanwhile, reports in regional media suggested that the separated head of the idol was found in a nearby water body.
Meanwhile, leaders from the BJP staged a dharna near the temple demanding arrest of the accused and safeguarding of Hindu temples in the state. Actor-politician and Jana Sena Party chief Pawan Kalyan also lashed out at the YSRCP government, stating that the incident was part of a larger string of alleged attacks on Hindu temples that were taking place in the state.
In a strongly worded statement, Pawan Kalyan said, "The damaging of the lord Rama idol and taking away of the head is an act of religious fanatics.â€ť He alleged that the incident took place as the state government acted negligently in past incidents.
While seeking a response from Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, Pawan said, "In our state, lord Rama's idol was damaged. At this time of Ram temple construction in Ayodhya, why is the CM not responding when there is an increase in the attacks on temples."
Earlier in September, Andhra Pradesh Director General Of Police (DGP) in the wake of allegations of "conspiracy" by a section of political groups said that the temple related crime incidents were stand alone and were not linked in any way.
DGP Guatam Sawang has also asserted, "Bounty hunters, criminal elements, people with superstitious beliefs, and others were found involved in crimes at temples in Andhra Pradesh, which registered the lowest such cases in 2020, compared with the past five years."
Watch TNMâ€™s detailed story on the issue below.