Amaravati: Refuting allegations that certain sections of the society were carrying out attacks on temples and their properties with vested interests, Andhra Pradesh DGP Gautam Sawang said that as many as 12 accused were arrested in connection with 19 cases of attacks on shrines since the Antarvedi incident. He said that they were confident of cracking the remaining cases in due course of time.

The DGP said that all of them were standalone incidents and that each had a different motive. “There seems to be a rather aggressive attempt being made to link all these incident to spin a narrative which is wrong,” he said.

He said: “In the Srikakulam incident, there were accusations that the arm of the idol was desecrated. Our investigation revealed that the arm of the idol fell off last year as it was exposed to heavy rains. In Kurnool district, the accused revealed that he desecrated the idol and stole the private parts of the deity because he was made to believe that this could lead to his wife conceiving a child. Various other attacks were executed by treasure trove gangs who were hunting for treasures supposedly hidden under idols. All the incidents are unrelated and have different motives,” he said.

He said that the police department had mapped a total of 47,593 places of worship out of which 28,567 are temples. “Only 10 % of the structures are equipped with CCTV cameras. We have issued notices to the authorities of the respective temples to take necessary steps to ensure safety like installing CCTVs, boosting lighting around the structure, etc. A comprehensive social audit of all these structures has been completed. The department itself has installed CCTVs at over 880 locations. The police have ‘ bound over’ a total of 8,204 who had committed similar offences in the past 6 years,” he added.

Speaking about the latest incident in Chittoor, he said: “Last evening, it was reported that a ‘Nandi’ idol in a temple in the district was desecrated by unknown miscreants. The police sent a notice to the management of this temple to ensure its safety. We are investigating all possible angles,” he said.

The DGP also claimed that it was important to note that 2020 has reported the least number of attacks on temples so far when compared to the figures pertaining to all the years since the division of the state.

In 2015, there were as many as 290 incidents of attacks on temples, in 2016, 322 such incidents were recorded, in 2017, 318 were registered, in 2019, 305 were registered while in 2020, 228 were recorded so far.

He requested the citizens not to get carried away by rumours but know about the facts.

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