Amaravati, Jan 14 | Irrespective of the government of the day or the political party in power, temple offences occurred in Andhra Pradesh almost every year in the past five years, as per the statistics shared by Director General of Police (DGP) Gautam Sawang on Wednesday.
Under the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) government, 163 temple offences were reported in 2015, 139 in 2017, 123 in 2018 and 177 in 2019 when the government transitioned to the YSR Congress Party (YSRCP).
In 2020, a year which saw an uproar following the chariot burning at the Sri Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy temple in Antarvedi, there were 143 alleged temple offences and six more in 2021 until now.
The offences included idol desecration and theft, ornaments theft, digging temple premises, temple demolition and chariot burning.
Major incidents in the alleged temple attacks in 2020 and 2021 under the YSRCP government included 38 cases of temple theft and desecration, two chariot burnings and four temple digging cases, totalling 44 incidents.
Incidentally, as many as seven cases in these 44 incidents were false propaganda and wear and tear damage, leading to the arrest of nine people.
Likewise, six cases were committed by property offenders and treasure hunters while other reasons included attention diversion, settling scores over disputes of ownership, superstition, drunkards and accidents.
Sawang shared a document which clearly identified 28 of those cases, explaining where and when they happened and the type of offence.
Out of the 44 cases, 15 are still unresolved which occurred in Akiveedu, Dwaraka Tirumala, Thulluru, Bethamcharla, Antarvedi (chariot), Patamata, Vatsavai, Naidupet, Mantralayam, Coringa, Machavaram, Gudur PS, Ramateertham, Rajamundry and Krishnalanka.
Amid the outcry over alleged temple attacks, Sawang said a deliberate misinformation campaign was carried out in the state.
“There has been a deliberate attempt to twist the facts,” he said while addressing a press conference where he revealed that the police faced serious challenges during the last year owing to the coronavirus pandemic.
According to Sawang, 109 policemen have succumbed to coronavirus.
Despite these difficult conditions, the DGP said that the state police managed to bag over 100 national awards, excelling in crime control and achieving a high conviction rate.
The senior most IPS officer in the state said that as many as 58,871 religious places have been mapped, while 43,824 CCTV cameras have been installed in 13,089 religious places.
As many as 1,635 temple offenders have been rounded up from September 2020 onwards, he said.
A total of 15,394 village defence squads have been formed and the numbers are expected to go up to 23,256.
“The security arrangements at the temples are unprecedented,” added the head of the state police force.