CBI to probe Andhra temple chariot fire, CM Jagan Mohan Reddy gives nod

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A controversy had erupted with opposition parties and various group alleging lackadaisical attitude on the part of the Jagan Mohan Reddy-led government in safeguarding Hindu temples.

Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy has decided to hand over the investigation into the blaze that destroyed the chariot of the Antarvedi Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy temple in East Godavari district to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

According to Deccan Chronicle, the Chief Minister has instructed the Director General of Police (DGP) to hand over the case to the premier investigation agency. Following the instructions, the DGP’s office has written a letter to this effect to the Union home ministry.

The 60-year-old wooden chariot of the Antarvedi temple was gutted in a mysterious fire in the wee hours of Sunday. The 40-feet high chariot made of teak wood was parked in a shed on the temple premises. The chariot was used during processions on special occasions and temple festivals.

The decision is in the light strong demand from several quarters, including the opposition parties, BJP, TDP and Jana Sena. They blamed the state government for the incident. The controversy has also acquired religious hues, with some groups alleging lackadaisical attitude on the part of the Jagan Mohan Reddy-led government in safeguarding Hindu temples.

The CM’s office said in a release that the chief minister had taken the criticism from political and other groups casting aspersions on the government seriously. No one would be spared and stringent action would be taken against those involved, irrespective of their position, the release added.

“In the interest of transparency, based on the demands of some political parties, the CM has instructed the DGP (Director General of Police) to hand over the case to the CBI, the statement said. Accordingly, the DGP wrote a letter to the Union Ministry of Home Affairs”, it added.

The state government has since placed the temple executive officer under suspension over the incident, and constituted an inquiry committee headed by the Endowments Additional Commissioner.

State Endowments Minister Velampalli Srinivasa Rao alleged that the chariot burning could be a conspiracy by the opposition parties to tarnish the government image.

Image Credit: The News Minute

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