Under fire for desecration of temples in Andhra, Jagan blames TDP for vandalism
A series of incidents of vandalization of Hindu temples in different parts of Andhra Pradesh is snowballing into a major issue with the opposition targeting the Jagan Mohan Reddy government for its inaction and the YSR Congress party openly accusing the Telugu Desam Party of involvement in the incidents.
The political slugfest over the matter peaked on Saturday with TDP president and former chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu visiting the 400-year-old Ramatirtham temple in Vizianagaram district, where the idol of Lord Rama was found desecrated on December 28.
Accompanied by senior party leaders, Naidu went to the temple atop a hill by foot and inspected the premises. Though the temple was locked up by the time he reached the spot, he interacted with the priests and other officials to get first-hand information.
Describing chief minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy of being a “betrayer of Hindus,” Naidu said in the last 18 months of YSRC regime, there had been 127 incidents of attacks on temples and desecration of idols, hurting the sentiments of Hindu devotees, but not a single culprit was punished till date.
“Jagan may be a Christian. But thinking (that he could) use power for converting Hindus is wrong. If people in power resort to religious conversions, it amounts to betrayal,” Naidu said, adding that the beheading of the Rama statue was a ‘great disgrace’ to the land.
Earlier, Naidu held a demonstration and squatted on the road in protest against the police for blocking the TDP leaders’ visit to Ramatirtham temple. After a lot of heated arguments, the police cleared the way for his visit to the temple.
Before Naidu visited the temple, YSRCP general secretary V Vijay Sai Reddy, along with his party leaders, visited the Ramatirtham temple to inquire into the incident. He alleged that the vandalisation of the temple and the desecration of Lord Rama’s idol was the handiwork of TDP workers at the behest of Naidu and his son Lokesh to defame the Jagan government.
Another YSRCP leader and advisor to the government Sajjala Ramakrishna Reddy also alleged that the TDP president was behind the attacks on the temples only to malign the government and divert the attention of the people from the launch of the land site distribution scheme.
Vizianagaram superintendent of police B Raja Kumari told reporters on Saturday that five special teams had been formed to investigate the matter. She announced a suitable reward for anyone who could provide genuine information about the miscreants behind the desecration of Lord Rama’s idol.
Similar incidents of vandalism of temples in the state in the last few days have caused a lot of embarrassment to the Jagan government. In the early hours of Friday, the idol of Lord Subrahmanyam Swamy in the temple of Lord Vighneshwara in Rajahmundry was vandalised.
On December 22, Lord Krishna temple in Darsi town was desecrated with pieces of animal flesh and blood strewn in the premises. In September, an idol of Nandi in the Lord Shiva temple in Chittoor district was found broken. In the same month, a century-old chariot parked at ancient Antarvedi Lakshmi Narasimha Temple premises in East Godavari district was found burnt in suspicious circumstances.
Apart from the TDP, other opposition parties including Bharatiya Janata Party and Jana Sena also lashed out at the YSRC government for its inaction on the incidents of vandalism in temples.
Describing the Ramathirtham incident as unfortunate, BJP in-charge of Andhra affairs, Sunil Deodhar, warned that the Jagan government would have to pay a huge price for desecration of temples. Every attack on temples in the state is testing Hindus’ patience, he said.
Jana Sena Party chief and actor Pawan Kalyan wondered whether Andhra Pradesh had turned into a Pakistan. “We have been hearing about the destruction of temples and desecration of Hindu gods in Pakistan. Now, we are witnessing the same situation in Andhra Pradesh. There have been instances of attacks on temples, desecration of Hindu gods and burning of chariots. Are we in Pakistan?” he asked.
Meanwhile, Jagan announced that those who were instigating attacks on temples would not be spared and directed police to take stringent action against the vandals.
He termed the destruction of idols atrocious and said God will certainly punish those who keep messing with temples and idols. He directed the police to step up surveillance to prevent attacks on temples.