The Special Investigation Team (SIT) formed to investigate the vandalising of temples in the State sounded a high alert in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana over the movement of treasure trove gangs.
More than 200 members of the gangs, involved in similar offences (damaging of temples) in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Chhattisgarh, Odisha and other States planned to search for ‘hidden treasure’ in temples, said SIT head and DIG G.V.G. Ashok Kumar.
“We were shocked to know that many treasure trove gangs are operating in A.P. and neighbouring States,” the SIT chief told The Hindu on Friday.
Krishna Superintendent of Police and SIT member M. Ravindranath Babu said as part of investigation in Nandi idol vandalising case, police arrested a gang from Telangana. During questioning, the gang members reportedly gave information on the operations of similar gangs.
“The arrested gang conducted ‘recce’ of nine temples in A.P. and Telangana. They took the pictures of the temples, sanctums, idols of the goddesses and Nandi and other spots where they suspect treasure is hidden, and prepared plans to enter the temples, steal the idols or damage them in their hunt for treasures,” said Mr. Babu.
“We are trying to find out the so-called astrologers, villagers, precious stone hunters, temple staff and others who helped the gangs in conducting ‘recce’ and taking photographs,” Mr. Ashok Kumar said.
The SP said the gang was arrested after they committed the first offence in Makkapeta Sri Visweswara Swamy temple, located in Vatsavai mandal in Krishna district.
“We have sent the details of the treasure trove gangs which are on the prowl in the State, to the DIGs, SPs and other officers. Interestingly, the gang members created fake ID cards on the name of ‘Hindu Devalayala Abhivrudhi Parirakshana Seva Samithi’ of A.P. and Telangana State and were moving around by flashing the ID cards,” Mr. Babu said.
SIT teams and the investigation officers will visit the neighbouring States and collect the previous history of the gangs from their counterparts, the SP said adding that a vigil had been kept on those who were circulating messages on treasures and spreading superstitions.
“We request the public and the Grama Rakshana Dalams, villagers and the community elders to be alert and help the police in protecting the temples,” the SIT chief appealed.