In a stinging attack on the Andhra Pradesh government in the context of the desecration of temples and idols in the state, Telugu Desam Party (TDP) president and former Chief Minister Nara Chandrababu Naidu on 2 January said that Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy was a betrayer of Hindus. Demanding an explanation from Reddy and a CBI probe, the former chief minister asked why his successor did not visit the temple till now as a mark of solidarity while also pointing out that such religious intolerance had increased in Andhra Pradesh under YSRCP government.
N Chandrababu Naidu made the comments during his visit to the Ramateertham temple. He alleged that not a single accused had been arrested so far because Chief Minister Reddy, a Christian, had a soft corner for the vandals who were behind the act of desecration.
N Chandrababu Naidu said that Reddy, a Christian, would be wrong to presume that he could use his power to convert Hindus. If people in power resort to religious conversions, it amounts to betrayal. One should not show such religious intolerance, Naidu said.
The following temples were attacked and the Idols were damaged in Andhra Pradesh under the administration of the Christian chief minister:
- 14.11.2019: Durga temple in Guntur
- 21.01.2020: Hanuman temple in Pithapuram
- 11.02.2020: Venugopala swami temple in Rompicherla
- 13.02.2020: The main entrance of a temple in Undrajavaram
- 14.02.2020: The Chariot of Lord Balaji was burnt in Bitragunta (District Nellore)
- 06.09.2020: The Chariot of Lakshmi Nrisimha swami burnt in Antarvedi
- 13.09.2020: The Silver Lions from the Chariot of Goddess Durga was stolen
- 15.09.2020: The murti of Saibaba was damaged in Nidamanur (District Krishna)
- 16.09.2020: Hanuman murti was damaged in Eleswaram
- 16.09.2020: Goddess’s murtis were damaged near Gundlapadu in Guntur Dist
- 17.09.2020: Nandi murti was damaged in Makkapet (District Krishna)
- 19.09.2020: Murtis of Lord Shiva were damaged in Chintapalli (District Visakhapatnam)
- 20.09.2020: Photo frames of Lord Ayyappa were damaged near Narasapuram (District West Godavari)
- 23.09.2020: Hanuman murti was damaged in Pathikonda (District Kurnool)
- 25.09.2020: Hanuman murti was damaged near Naidu pet (District Nellore)
- 05.10.2020: Nrisimha swami murti was damaged near Mantralayam (District Kurnool)
- 06.10.2020: Hanuman murti was damaged in Adoni (District Kurnool)
- 06.10.2020: Goddess Saraswati murti was damaged in Narasarao pet (District Guntur)
- 17.10.2020 – The main entrance of Sri Veerabhadra swami temple was damaged I Tarlapadu
- Hanuman murti was damaged near Yanam (District East Godavari)
- Lord Shri Rama murti was damaged in Vizianagaram
- Karthikeya murti was damaged in Rajahmundry
Translated from Telugu
“Jai Shri Ram slogan resounds in Ayodhya’s Ram temple. Similarly, Ramateertham Rama temple has always been held in high respect in North Andhra. In such a temple, miscreants have vandalised Lord Rama idol but the government was not taking any steps to catch the culprits,” N Chandrababu Naidu lamented.
The 400-year-old idol of Lord Rama at the Sri Rama Swamy Devasthanam in Vizianagaram district and Lord Subrahmanya Swamy’s idol in Lord Vigneshwara temple of Rajahmundry district were found in desecrated conditions, subjecting the Jagan Mohan Reddy-led Andhra government to fierce criticism.
While actor-turned-Jana Sena chief Pawan Kalyan has demanded a CBI probe into the act of vandalism, BJP’s state in-charge Sunil Deodhar compared the current spate of attacks on temples to the destruction of Goa temples in the 16th century. Terming the vandalisation of Lord Rama’s murti as “horrific”, he claimed that the AP government was tacitly supporting a “particular religion”. Moreover, he lambasted the police’s failure to catch the culprits.
Amid the uproar over the vandalization, the Andhra Pradesh government squarely placed the blame on a senior TDP leader. According to a government memo dated 2 January, former Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju has been sacked as the Chairman of the Trust board for not only the shrine where the vandalization took place but the Sri Pyditalli Ammavari Devasthanam and the Sri Mandeswara Swamy Temple.
This action has been taken in accordance with Section 28 of the Andhra Pradesh Charitable and Hindu Religious Institutions and Endowments Act. Alleging that he failed to discharge his “legitimate duties”, Raju has been accused of neglecting the security aspects of the temple in connection with the vandalization of Lord Rama’s murti.