Amid the recent incidents of temple vandalism in Andhra Pradesh, the state government has constituted a 16-member SIT to probe the attacks on temples headed by IPS officer, GV Ashok Kumar. As per the Andhra Pradesh government, the SIT will investigate all temple-related cases since September 2020. Additionally, departments have been asked to extend full cooperation to the SIT team.
The SIT will also co-ordinate with SPs and local personnel and identify the linkages by studying the pattern of reported crimes. Additionally, Cyber Crimes PS of CID, Vijayawada & Visakhapatnam shall extend all possible assistance. The Director, FSL has also been asked to accord top priority to the request of any Forensic support by the SIT chief, and agencies like CID and the Intelligence have been told to extend full co-operation to the investigating team.
When it comes to highlighting the role of the SIT chief the government has said that the Chief would supervise all proceedings in order to file a final report in the relevant court. He can also ask the DGP for any additional personnel/logistical support if required and would, in turn, update the DGP and ADGP about the progress of the cases from time to time.
The decision to form a 16-member SIT comes a day after CM Jagan Mohan Reddy, announced that he will be forming a 7-member State Level Communal Harmony Committee to discuss issues related to communal harmony and look into the security guidelines of religious places. The committee headed by the state chief secretary will comprise of the DGP, principal secretaries (Home, Endowments, Minority Welfare, Political), and one member from Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, and Other communities.
The recent incidents of vandalism began with the desecration of a 400-year-old Lord Rama idol at the famous Ramateertham temple of Vizianagaram district. On December 29 morning, one of the priests found the doors of the ancient Sita Lakshmana Kodandarama temple broken open and the Ram idol in the sanctum sanctorum beheaded. The severed portion of the statue was retrieved from the nearby temple pond on the next day.
Thereafter, Lord Subrahmanya Swamy's idol in Lord Vigneshwara temple of Rajahmundry district was found in a desecrated condition on the intervening night of December 31 and January 1. On January 3, yet another incident of vandalism occurred with a Goddess Sita idol found broken in the Sitaram Temple near Pandit Nehru Busstop in Vijayawada.