Police alert to prevent communal flare-up
Security has been beefed up across old city of Hyderabad after inputs trickled in that some anti-national elements may take advantage of the tense situation arising out of Wednesday’s theft at the famous Simhavani Mahankali temple at Lal Darwaza and make attempts to disturb peace in the purana shahar.
On the other hand, investigators probing the theft have begun to zero in on the suspects. Of 45 temple offenders, most of whom are out on bail, they have picked up at least 13 and are being questioned. On the radar is the notorious Prakash Singh Sahu gang.
Meanwhile, minister for major industries J Geeta Reddy visited the temple on Thursday and assured speedy probe into the theft and foolproof security for the temple. She said the temple would be opened on Friday after performing all the required rituals. She said the historic temple’s sanctity should be protected. Arrangements of for the Navaratri festivities from October 16 to 24 would be made without interruption and CC cameras would be installed for round-the-clock surveillance, she said.
Top police sources said security had been tightended across the old city as inputs suggest that some trouble-makers may resort to some act to flare up passions on Friday. ‘’Though there is no communal angle to the theft, there are some persons who might take advantage of the situation,’’ sources said.
A group of priests from Srisailam are arriving in Hyderabad in the early morning of Friday to conduct special rituals after which the temple will be opened.
Meanwhile, sources associated with the investigation told Express that the theft was the handiwork of a professional gang. ‘’The entire operation at the Mahankali temple could have lasted for about 20 minutes. They have taken away six items of gold, 4 kg of silver besides the diamond bindi donated by the Nizam in 1908,’’ the sources said.
Of the six gold items weighing 12 tolas, two were found lying within the temple and they believe that the two items could have fallen while the offenders were trying to leave the temple hurriedly. Though the needle of suspicion points towards Prakash Singh Sahu, who also goes by the alias Prakash Patnaik and hails from Bhilai in Chhattisgarh, investigators said that the finger prints picked up from the scene did not match with those of Sahu. ‘’It is also possible that someone from his gang could be behind it,’’ they said.
Sahu is said to be an expert in committing thefts at temples including the Kanaka Durga temple in Vijayawada and two in Cyberabad police limits. The offenders gained access to the temple by breaking open the temple lock using a crowbar and then cut open the shutter inside. The offence took place between 11.30 pm on Tuesday night and 6 am on Wednesday.
The old city remained tense on Thursday after scores of BJP and VHP activists called for a one-day bandh. A tense situation prevailed for sometime as the workers intended to take out a protest rally and police denying permission. They were demanding proper security for the temple and immediate arrest of the culprits.
Several business establishments, shops, bank ATMs in the Lal Darwaza locality remained shut till evening.
Hyderabad police commissioner Anurag Sharma visited the temple and held a meeting with the temple committee and promised to arrest the culprits at the earliest. Devotees and temple committee members, about 200 of them, assembled before the temple and staged a demonstration protesting against the police inaction.