Hyderabad: Andhra Pradesh director-general of police Damodar Gautam Sawang, on 13 January, said there was a deliberate misinformation campaign regarding the temple attacks in Andhra Pradesh and that deliberate attempts were being made to "twist the facts".
Deploring the "politically-motivated" allegations against the state police, Mr. Sawang said, "The police force has faced serious challenges in the past year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As many as 109 policemen died of coronavirus. But the Andhra Pradesh police rose to the occasion despite being under severe stress and won over 100 national awards while excelling in crime control, arrest of accused persons, and maintained high conviction rates."
The DGP said it was unfortunate that politically-motivated allegations were being leveled against the police. "As many as 44 cases of unfortunate incidents were reported in the state. Questions were being raised about the police and religious and caste motives were being attributed to them. Such allegations were unheard of in the past," the police chief said while asserting that the police officers perform their duties impartially irrespective of their caste and religion.
Stating that the burning of the chariot at Antharvedi temple last September was unfortunate, Mr. Sawang pointed out that the state government has already ordered a CBI inquiry into the incident. After reviewing security at all temples in the state, over 58,000 have been geo-tagged. Over 43,000 CCTV cameras have been installed of which 30,000 were installed during the last two months, the DGP said, adding, "The security arrangements at the temples are unprecedented."
He also said that the police had suggested improving security at Ramathertham three months ago. A 400-year-old idol of Lord Rama was vandalized at the temple in December. Mr. Sawang said that 16 CCTV cameras were installed in the main temple and more were set to be installed two days before the incident.
While releasing various details of the incidents that have occurred since September last year, the DGP said that as many as 180 cases relating to attack on places of worship were solved and 347 criminals arrested. The state government has initiated the process of setting up communal harmony committees at the state and district level, Mr. Sawang said, adding that such committees will be set up at police stations too.