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BJP seeks Andhra DGP’s removal for blaming it for temple attacks

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BJP’s Andhra Pradesh unit has reacted strongly to Director General of Police Gautam Sawang’s statement blaming the BJP leaders for a series of attacks on temples in the state and demanded his removal.

Party’s state unit chief Somu Veerraju demanded that Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy should respond immediately to remove Gautam Sawang from the DGP’s post for making baseless allegations.

Addressing a news conference here on Sunday, the BJP leader said Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy should respond to the remarks made by the police chief.

He said it was unfortunate that instead of taking action against those involved in the attacks on temples, false cases were being booked against the BJP cadres.

Somu Veerraju said the YSR Congress party government should specify what is its objective. He alleged that the government is working to hurt the religious sentiments of the Hindus.

He found fault with the DGP’s statement and said no action was taken against the burning of ancient chariot at Antarvedi, desecration at Ramateertha temple and attacks on several other temples but the police chief announced booking of cases against the BJP leaders.

He said the officials enumerating properties of temples should also undertake the exercise in cases of churches in the state.

The BJP leader demanded an immediate halt to religious conversions in the state.

He said the government was acting with the intention to weaken Hindutva.

He wondered if the government is paying salaries to pastors for doing conversions. “When churches have assets worth thousands of crores, why should the government build churches,” he asked.

The BJP leader demanded a white paper on the assets owned by the churches and said the party would submit its report to the Centre on church assets.

Gautam Sawang had on Friday released details of political links in the desecration of temple idol cases and false propaganda on social media. He claimed that 21 people belonging to the TDP and the BJP were identified and 15 were arrested so far. Amongst the 21 people involved in nine cases, 17 belong to the TDP and four to the BJP. So far, 13 of those from the TDP and two from the BJP have been arrested, he had said.

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DGP blames social media for false news on temples

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Finally, AP DGP Gautam Sawang has come out with a detailed explanation of his department on the ongoing attacks on temples. He said just 44 cases were important while all the other cases were insignificant and minor. The social media is to blame for all the misinformation campaign going on all over. False news is being spread willfully. But the police were working amid many challenges though 109 policemen died due to Coronavirus. Another 14,340 policemen suffered from the virus.

Sawang indirectly referred to Chandrababu Naidu comments on religion and said that false allegations were being made against the police out of political considerations. He said that some persons were attributing caste and religious feelings to the police officials. He deplored that he had not heard such baseless remarks during his 35 years of police career.

The DGP said that Ramatheertham temple was inspected three months ago itself. The efforts to install CCTV cameras on the hill steps was not possible as there was no current line. Now, these facilities were being provided. In two days, cameras will be installed there.

Sawang said that already, 43,000 cameras were installed in 13,000 temples. Geo tagging was given to over 58,871 temples in the State. The DGP said that over 180 cases were registered since September and 347 persons were arrested. Seven inter-state gangs were among those arrested. Over 15,000 village committees were formed all over the State.

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Andhra DGP set up SIT to probe temple attacks

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Following a flood of alleged temple attacks in Andhra Pradesh, Director General of Police, Goutam Sawang, on Friday announced a special investigation team (SIT) on Friday to probe the crimes “in a focused manner”.

“In view of the above incidents, it is felt that there is a need to investigate such cases in a focused manner, for which an SIT is formed,” he said.

The 16-member SIT will be led by Anti-Corruption Bureau’s Additional Director G.V.G. Ashok Kumar.

“SIT will investigate all the cases and incidents pertaining to temples and desecration of idols which were reported since September 2020 till date in the state,” the DGP said, directing departments such as the Forensic Sciences Laboratory (FSL), cyber crimes police station of CID in Vijayawada and Visakhapatnam and others to extend top priority to supporting the SIT’s work.

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DGP should check facts before writing letters, says TDP

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Director General of Police Gautam Sawang’s letter to Ex CM Chandrababu Naidu has triggered heated exchanges. Now, the TDP asked the DGP to verify facts before writing ‘arbibtrary and unconstitutional’ letters on a murder attempt case. How could the DGP unethically say that the TDP leaders attacked Dalit judge S. Ramakrishna’s brother Ramachandra? The real facts were strikingly contradictory to Mr. Sawang’s statements.

TDP asserts that Pratapa Reddy, who was one of the attackers, was not working in the TDP ever since the local body elections. In fact, Pratapa Reddy got his mother’s nomination on TDP behalf withdrawn after accepting inducements from YCP leaders. He has been moving with YCP leaders ever since. The police boss turned blind to these facts and spoke in such a way as to favour the main accused Kumar Reddy and two other YCP leaders. The DGP’s letter to Naidu on September 28 was totally unlawful, unethical, undemocratic and unparliamentary going by how he overstepped the boundaries of his police duties.

TDP senior leader Varla Ramaiah asked the DGP to do some soul searching whether the ongoing atrocities on Dalits and different sections would not be enough to say that the law and order was deteriorating in Andhra Pradesh or not. This was why Mr. Naidu made his comments. The DGP totally failed to respond when 12 gangsters abducted and raped a Dalit minor girl in Rajahmundry with no action taken against them. An innocent SI was arrested while the actual culprits were let go in a Dalit youth tonsure case. No action was taken against the perpetrators who locked up five women and a handicapped man inside their hut and set itself ablaze. A Dalit youth was beaten to death just for not wearing a mask. The DGP should say whether these incidents were not enough to say that he had failed to ensure proper law and order in the State.

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Naidu ridicules DGP over “sealed cover” letters

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Former Chief Minister and Telugu Desam Party president N Chandrababu Naidu on Tuesday ridiculed state Director General of Police Gautam Sawang for asking him to refrain from writing letters to the media.

Gautam Sawang asked Naidu to refrain from writing letters to the media and instead write to him in private to help police discharge their lawful duties. “You may kindly write to me in a sealed cover and help the police in discharging their lawful duties and protecting the rights of people at large, thereby maintaining and enforcing the rule of law,” he said.

To this, Naidu lashed out at Sawang stating that if there is a breakdown in law and order should the opposition party write to the police or the ruling party. “Whose responsibility is it to enforce proper law and order in the state? Is it not the duty of the police to ensure that they implement the law of the land in true letter and spirit? How can the DGP ask me to write a letter in a sealed cover. How can he ask me not to write letters to the media,” Naidu questioned.

The TDP president stated that there has been a complete breakdown of law and order in the state ever since the YSRCP rode to power. “In the last more than one year, there has been an increasing attacks on Dalits, temples were being attacked. There is utter lawlessness. The DGP instead of looking into these issues is talking like an opposition party leader and not as the police boss. This attitude is most unfortunate. Several times the DGP was summoned by the High Court, yet the atrocities on Dalits have not stopped,” he said.

Naidu had recently written a letter stating that the attack on suspended judge Ramakrishna’s brother Ramachandra in Chittoor district was planned and sponsored by the ruling YSRCP. In the letter, Naidu alleged that the attack was an attempt to muzzle the voice of suspended Judge Ramakrishna and his brother Ramachandra.

On September 27, Ramachandra was attacked by four unidentified persons when he went to buy fruits at a vegetable market in B. Kothakota. While he was buying fruits, the unidentified persons were traveling in a car. The unidentified persons entered into a verbal duel with Ramachandra and later thrashed him.

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Criminal gangs hunting for treasures in temples: Sawang

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The Andhra Pradesh police which has miserably failed to crack the two temple related crimes – Antarvedi chariot burning in Sri Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy in East Godavari and the missing of three silver lion statues from Kanaka Durga temple in Vijayawada – claimed that these crimes from different temples across the state were isolated ones and not linked in any way.

Recently, ‘Nandi’ idol was sacrilege in a Chittoor temple. DGP Gautam Sawang said police had sent a notice to the temple management and was investigating the case. Sawang said several gangs were hunting for treasures supposedly hidden under idols.

“Criminal elements, people with superstitious beliefs, and others were found involved in crimes,” he said. Presenting statistics on temple attacks in Andhra, Sawang said 228 cases were identified in 2020, which were lower than the previous years.

Sawang reeled out statistics which showed that attacks on temples were more during the previous TDP regime compared to one year of YSRCP rule. “In 2019, when the state witnessed a change in ruling party from TDP to YSRCP, the state witnessed 305 cases involving temples. During the TDP regime, the state saw 290 cases in 2015, 322 in 2016, 318 in 2017, and 267 in 2018, indicating that the temples were reporting damage in some form or the other through attacks or elements of nature or bounty hunters,” the DGP stated. He claimed that 12 of the 19 temple attack cases since the Antarvedi Sri Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy temple chariot blaze had been cracked.

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Resign if you cannot implement law and order: HC to DGP

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The High Court yet again pulled up the Andhra Pradesh police stating that it had failed to implement the rule of law in the state.

In a scathing attack, the High Court observed that DGP Gautam Sawang had failed to put the police system in order despite serving several notices to him. In far more serious observations, the High Court even asked the DGP to quit if he cannot bring order in the police system.

The High Court was hearing a Habeas Corpus petition filed by one Sukara Narayana over the mysterious disappearance of his nephew Venkata Raju.

According to the petitioner, his nephew Venkata Raju had mysteriously disappeared from his village Indupalli in Amalapuram.

Hearing the petitioner’s agony, the High Court asked the state counsel, “Is there any law and order in the state?” This is not the first instance of why the DGP was taken to task by the High Court. Earlier, the High Court had summoned the DGP on several occasions. The High Court on March 12 pulled up Gautam Sawang why he did not take disciplinary action against Vishakhapatnam police officers who violated the law by illegal detaining TDP president Chandrababu Naidu at Visakhapatnam airport.

The HC had also turned its ire on the state police over the illegal arrest of advocate Subhash Chandra Bose. Hearing a Habeas Corpus petition filed by the wife of High Court advocate Subhash Chandra Bose who was arrested by the Andhra Pradesh police, the HC expressed deep anguish over the high-handedness of the cops. The illegal arrests by the police are continuing in Andhra Pradesh despite assurances made by state DGP Gautam Sawang to the court that such arrests will not reoccur, the HC had observed.

Gautam Sawang was also summoned by the High Court in a case related to the seizure of vehicles used for transportation of liquor.

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Naidu writes letter to DGP on breakdown of law & order in AP

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Telugu Desam Party president and former chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu on Tuesday dashed off a letter to state Director General of Police (DGP) Gautam Sawang stating that there is a complete breakdown of law and order in the state.

In the letter, Naidu pointed out that the ruling YSRCP government is victimizing Opposition leaders by foisting false cases, especially against leaders belonging to the backward communities and Dalits.

In the letter, Naidu appealed to DGP to act impartially and ensure that the ruling YSRCP leaders stop political terror and attacks on opposition political party workers and supporters. He asked the DGP to make sure that the people are not barred from exercising their democratic right, including the right to protest or voice their opinions and those who attacked opposition demonstrations are booked and apprehended without delay.

Naidu also brought to the notice of the DGP that there has been an increasing attack on journalists across the state, while citing the assault on scribes in Tuni, Nellore and Chirala. In the letter, Naidu also stated that YSRCP minister Peddireddy Ramachandra Reddy’s men attacked the house of journalist Venkata Narayana and vandalized his property in Punganuru. Peddireddy Ramachandra Reddy’s men also threatened to douse the family with petrol and burn them alive. “This was in retaliation for exposing Om Pratap’s death and YSRCP sand mafia. Two Dalit youths M Narayana and Om Pratap have died under mysterious circumstances in Punganuru,” Naidu pointed out in his letter.

Naidu also stated that the YSRC government was trying to cover up atrocities against Dalits by using threats and inducements against the victims’ families.

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DGP writing counter letters instead of taking action?

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TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu”s letter to PM Modi on phone tapping triggered a major controversy. Later, AP DGP wrote a letter to Naidu asking for evidence. Now, it is for Naidu to issue a counter. The TDP simply asked how the DGP could ask for evidence instead of initiating action to check facts. Mr. Naidu had made allegations of phone tapping by the ruling party to monitor movements of Opposition, advocates, journalists and social activists in the State.

Mr. Naidu termed it as laughable that instead of initiating action to verify facts, the DGP wrote a counter letter seeking evidence. He said that he had written many letters and submitted memorandam on false cases filed against TDP leaders in the past, but the DGP never cared to respond. Mr. Naidu had written his letter to the Prime Minister but the AP DGP wrote his reply. Naidu said it was now the bounden duty of the DGP to clarify what action he had taken against the culprits responsible for the attacks and false cases against TDP leaders.

Mr. Naidu asked why the DGP maintained a silence when he was obstructed during his visit to Visakhapatnam. First, permission was given for the Vizag visit but finally, hurdles were created.

The TDP chief said that even when he was going to visit Atmakur, the front gates of his residential building were tied with ropes to prevent him from coming out of his house. The DGP’s actions created such an action wherein he had to stand and read the law before the court. From the beginning, it was a habit of the ruling YSRCP leaders. In the past, they had tapped the phones of CBI former joint director VV Lakshminarayana. Now, even the phones of the doctors were being tapped. Eventually, the front line warriors were afraid of lifting phone calls of even their patients for fear of receiving threats. The doctors were not hesitating to come forward to give treatment to the Covid patient out of fear of harassment from the ruling party.

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Release seized vehicles in 3 days: HC to Gautam Sawang

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In a huge embarrassment to the state police, the Andhra Pradesh High Court on Wednesday pulled up DGP Gautam Sawang on the seizure of vehicles used for transportation of liquor.

Hearing a batch of petitions, the High Court ordered the police to immediately release the seized vehicles. Asking the DGP to explain why due procedures were not followed in seizure of the vehicles, the court gave three days time to release the vehicles and hand them over to the respective owners.

The petitioners contended that the police were not following the rules stipulated under CrPC and the AP Excise Act in seizing the vehicles and that their vehicles were getting damaged as they were kept outside the police stations.

Earlier, the HC had pulled up Gautam Sawang why action should not be taken against the police for arresting TDP president and former chief minister

N Chandrababu Naidu at the Vizag airport on February 27 when he arrived to participate in various party programmes. The TDP boss was arrested despite securing necessary permissions from the police to hold the party’s programmes. However, the YSRCP workers arrived at the airport and disallowed Naidu from entering into the city and thereby forcibly stopped him from taking part in the party’s programmes. Deposing before the court,

Sawang had admitted that Naidu’s arrest was not in the spirit of Sec.151(1). The HC asked him to take action against the assistant commissioner and the commissioner of police of Vizag who served the arrest notice.

In another case, Gautam Sawang had to appear before the court on February 14 in connection with a habeas corpus petition filed by a person from Visakhapatnam accusing the police of illegally confining his son and daughter-in-law in a house in Vijayawada.

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