VIJAYAWADA: Absence of surveillance and security measures in several temples is helping gangs in committing crimes. The series of incidents in recent weeks took place in such temples, police said and stressed that these had happened in past years too.
AP Police initiated or strengthened surveillance steps for holy places under which, for the first time in the country, as many as 58,871 temples were geo-tagged in the 13 districts. Committees were formed with locals for protection of religious places.
Attacks on temples took place in previous periods too, but this time some political parties made a big hue and cry even in the matter of minor incidents. Mainly, the Telugu Desam, the BJP and the Jana Sena were in the forefront while other Hindu organisations too raised their voice.
As per records, 163 temple offences were registered in 2015, in which 12 were of idol desecration/idol theft, 144 of ornament theft, six of digging of temple premises and one of chariot burning. The temple offences increased to 207 in 2016, in which 31 cases were of idol desecration/idol theft, 139 of ornament theft, three of digging the temple premises and 34 of temple demolitions.
In 2017, as many as 139 temple offences registered in which 25 were of idol desecration/idol theft, 113 of ornament theft and one of digging a temple premises.
As many 123 temple offences were registered in 2018, in which 29 were of idol desecration/idol theft, 91 of ornament theft, two of diggings the temple premises and one of temple demolition. In 2019, as many as 177 temple offences were registered, in which 22 were of idol desecration/idol theft, 151 of ornament theft, four of digging the temple premises and two of chariot burning.
In 2020, 143 temple offences were registered, in which 34 were of idol desecration/idol theft, 103 of ornament thefts, four of diggings the temple premises and two of chariot burning. In the corresponding year 2021, six temple offences were registered in which four were of idol desecration/idol theft and two of ornament theft.
There are 23,834 recognised temples under the supervision of the state government through the endowment department. Further, nearly 25,000 temples belong to private individuals and committees. Barring a few big temples, the majority of these temples lacked surveillance and security measures.
For instance, of the 32 temples in one-town area of Vijayawada city, only four temples are equipped with CCTV cameras and the rest 28 did not have cameras. Only six temples have security guards and there was no protection for 26 temples, which reflected the poor security and protective measures.
Temple priest S Rama Murthy said habitual temple offenders would rob the hundis, take away ornaments and ancient idols. They sometimes do digging for treasure hunt.
He said many temple committees would not initiate measures to appoint security guards and install surveillance systems. All temples should be equipped with modern surveillance equipment and these be linked with the concern police stations.
APDGP Gautam Sawang said the police department geo-tagged 58,871 temples in AP and 43,824 CCTV cameras were installed for continuous surveillance. This was the first-of-its-kind initiative in the country. The police also set up communal harmony committees at state, district and police station levels for the protection of religious places.
Minister for endowment Vellampalli Srinivas said all the temples were instructed to initiate security measures. A majority of the temples are following the norms and the rest would install protective measures in coming days, he said....