Updated: January 16, 2021 10:45:26 am
FACING POLITICAL heat over incidents of vandalism at temples across the state, the YSRCP government in Andhra Pradesh on Friday released investigation reports in nine cases in which opposition TDP and BJP workers and sympathisers have been accused of spreading false news and instigating the attacks. The reports, however, do not say who targeted the temples.
The government claimed that 17 TDP members and four BJP members were involved in cases related to vandalism at temples. Thirteen from TDP and two from BJP have been arrested in this connection, it said.
Both the TDP and BJP said the government was trying to blame the opposition parties instead of going after those who indulged in vandalism.
TDP general secretary Nara Lokesh said, “Instead of arresting the persons who actually desecrated the idols and attacked the temples, they are arresting people for their posts on social media and or writing reports in newspapers, highlighting the issue.”
The TDP has claimed that there have been over 145 incidents of vandalism at temples during the YSRCP regime. However, the government has listed only nine cases, blaming TDP or BJP workers for false information.
BJP state president Somu Veeraju said the government was making a desperate attempt to blame other political parties. “There is no effort to catch the real culprits. This is an attempt to put blame on other parties,” he said.
In one of the cases, TDP sympathiser C Madhusudhan Reddy, who posted a message on Telegram about miscreants damaging an idol of Goddess Saraswati at Srungeri Shankar Math in Guntur district, was arrested for spreading false information. The police report said Reddy forwarded the news about an incident that occurred two years ago.
In a separate case, two TDP workers and two BJP workers were arrested in Rajahmundry Urban on September 12 last year for alleged false propaganda that a Lord Ganesha idol had been desecrated. The police report said TDP’s V Prasad Babu and C Sandeep and BJP’s A Varaprasad and K Srinivas Rao spread the fake information.
In a December 5 case, the police arrested B Subbareddy, 44, a TDP sympathiser, for putting a garland of slippers on an idol of Lord Hanuman. According to the police, they found during investigation that Subbareddy’s father had sold the piece of land on which the idol was erected. However, anticipating that the YSRCP government would acquire that land at good price to give it to eligible beneficiaries under a government scheme, Subbareddy allegedly garlanded the idol to claim that the land already sold by his father as his.
In another case, on December 28, the Kurnool Police arrested four TDP workers – Syed Fakruddin, B Jayaramudu, G Ramanjaneyulu and G Peddaiah – for allegedly demolishing an idol at a temple in Maddikera. The FIR, however, still states that unknown offenders demolished the idol.
In a December 30 case, police in Kurnool arrested alleged TDP sympathiser Viswanatha Reddy, a temple committee management member of Lord Anjaneya Swamy at Marlamanda village, after he reported that legs of one of the idols in the temple had been chopped. Two journalists who reported his claim in local media were also arrested. The police report claimed that an electrician, while working inside the temple, slipped and fell causing damage to the idol.
In a separate case, six local reporters who were alleged TDP sympathisers were arrested on charges of reporting “false” news that idols of Lord Lakshmi Narasimha and Goddess Chenchu Lakshmi were damaged at a temple in Prakasam district. The police said the six knew the idols were damaged due to wear and tear.
In a case of January 6, 2021, police in Visakhapatnam district arrested two alleged TDP activists for claiming that an idol of Lord Ganesha at Yetigryampeta village had been vandalised. The police said the two spread false news on social media in spite of knowing that the idol broke a long time ago.
In another case of October 10 last year, K Ravi Kumar, BJP mandal secretary in Sompeta village in Srikakulam, was arrested for uploading photos of a damaged idol of Lord Hanuman from the local temple on social media. The police report said the idol was damaged in a cyclone and Kumar posted the photos to promote enmity between communities.
In another case of September 23 last year, Srikakulam Police arrested D Acharya, an alleged BJP member, for false propaganda on social media that the an idol of Goddess Saraswati at a local temple was vandalised. The police report claimed Acharya did it despite knowing that the idol was damaged long back due to wear and tear.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines