Amid BJP call for ‘Chalo Antarvedi’, Andhra Police appeals for fewer visitors

Antarvedi (Andhra Pradesh) Sep 9 (IANS) Andhra Pradesh’s East Godavari district Police have appealed for the minimum number of people to descend on the temple village Antarvedi on Wednesday, from where the state BJP leaders are expected to launch the “Chalo Antarvedi” agitation.

The agitation is being launched in protest against the attacks on Hindu temples after a chariot was gutted under mysterious circumstances.

“We have not put any party leader under house arrest and are only requesting for a minimum number of people to arrive here to maintain law and order as the investigation continues in the chariot case,” East Godavari District Superintendent of Police (SP) Adnan Nayeem Asmi told IANS.

He said the police department has made that appeal Considering security as well as everybody’s health amid the Covid pandemic.

Asmi said many outsiders are arriving, which can lead to law and order problems.

Meanwhile, Andhra BJP chief Somu Verraju has started off for Antarvedi from Rajahmundry to visit the Sri Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy temple, where the seven tiered six decade-old wooden chariot was reduced to ashes.

“We have the same request for Verraju also. We will explain to him about the investigation,” he said.

One of the reasons for asking that a lesser number of people visit the village was to avoid a situation like Tuesday when state Endowments Minister Vellampalli Srinivas Rao and Pinipe Vishwarup were boycotted by the locals and devotees.

“All these new developments are causing the investigation to lose focus. Our main focus right now is to get the enquiry completed. We are requesting all parties to cooperate with us,” said Asmi.

According to the SP, people are being allowed to come in fewer numbers so that there will not be any tension as the issue is connected to religion.

“People should not feel that there is something to hide,” he observed.

No arrest has been made yet in the chariot fire case and the police are waiting for the forensic reports into the incident.

“Unfortunately, we did not have any CCTV footage. The CCTV cameras, which were focusing on the chariot, were not functioning for the last 15 days. Otherwise the case would have been resolved or it may not have happened in the first place,” pointed out Asmi.

However, he expressed confidence that the case would be solved with corroborative evidence.

Police are investigating the case from an insider’s angle as well, by interrogating the people working in the temple, but Asmi said this was a remote chance.

“This kind of an act can be committed by anybody. We have thoroughly investigated the temple officials, including security guards, caretakers and people nearby,” he said.

Amid the chariot case, the district police department is stretched with 800 of them testing positive for coronavirus. Asmi said only 300 have recovered from the virus while the rest 500 are still in the process of recovery.

“We got additional police force from other districts and AP Special Police and our special teams are also here. So we are working with a 500 strong police team on the case and a special dedicated team is also carrying out the investigation for forensic and scientific evidence,” he added.

Asmi also confirmed that the power struggle for one-upmanship in the Antarvedi temple affairs between land donors Kopanathi Lakshmamma family and others is a long running issue.

He said this issue crops up every year, but gets resolved through talks. He highlighted that the “devotion towards Lord Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy is so immense from both the contestants that chances of any foul play — we are denying”.

Antarvedi temple is famous for its ‘Theertham’ (temple fair), drawing thousands of people from both West and East Godavari districts and beyond.

Known as the second Varanasi, Antarvedi temple is vividly mentioned in the Hindu scriptures and is associated with the sage Vasishta and others.

The Tirumala Tirupathi Devasthanam runs an accommodation facility in the village.

Adorned with lakhs of coconut trees, scenic Antarvedi is located in the lush green Konaseema region of the East Godavari district, 200 km east of Vijayawada, 130 km from Kakinada and 57 km southeast of Bhimavaram.