At a time when allegations of multiple temple attacks are making headlines in Andhra Pradesh, the initiative of installing surveillance cameras at all religious places has enabled the state’s East Godavari district police on Monday to arrest a drunken butcher for damaging the tridents (trishul) of a local temple in Kakinada more than a week ago.
The police arrested Vanumu Lakshmana Rao, 39, a resident of Kondayyapalem in Kakinada, and also managed to procure the footage of his criminal act. The police shared footage of an inebriated Rao dancing and talking in front of the goddess idols holding the tridents and touching them.
In another video captured by a CCTV camera from the left side, Rao raised his hand and pushed the idol’s trident, resulting in its top part breaking.
He committed the crime in just 10 minutes: between 10:20 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. on the night of January 9 at Sri Nookalamma Temple in Kakinada’s Kondayyapalem.
“He (Rao) was subjected to a thorough interrogation. The arrested accused has confessed to have committed this offence,” said a police official.
On that fateful day, Rao borrowed his friend’s bicycle and got drunk. He later went to the temple, broke the tridents and went away.
In the footage shared by the police, the bicycle was found fallen on the ground as Rao was seen dancing, talking and breaking the tridents, even as passersby zipped by on the road beside unbothered.
“Priest of the temple attended as usual in the morning at about 6 a.m. on January 10th and noticed that the two tridents outside the temple were partly broken,” said the official.
The cement idols standing on either sides of the Nookalamma temple’s entry door used to hold two tridents.
Following a complaint by the temple’s committee president Karri Gangaraju at 1 p.m. on January 10, next day of the crime, that two tridents were damaged, police managed to arrest Rao on Monday.
Rao was arrested under IPC sections 447, 295, 295 – A, 153 – A and was being prepared to be produced in front of a local Court on Monday.
Incidentally, Rao abandoned his wife eight years ago and is a father of two boys who live with their mother at Indrapalem.
Eking out a living as a butcher of goats and also as a labourer, Rao was known for sleeping at the very Nookalamma temple where he broke the tridents as well as Sarada temple in the port town.
Heaving a sigh of relief on cracking the case successfully, East Godavari district superintendent of police Adnan Nayeem Asmi highlighted the need to install sufficient number of cctv cameras at all religious places.
However, the crime did give some jitters to the police department, requiring G. V. G. Ashok Kumar, deputy inspector general of police and the chief of the special investigation team (SIT) formed to crackdown on the temple offenders, to personally visit the crime scene.