Vijayawada, Sep 16 (IANS) Three silver plated lions adorning the chariot of Sri Durga Malleswara Swamyvarla Devasthanam here in Andhra Pradesh, popularly known as Indrakeeladri Kanakadurga temple, have gone missing.
“Three silver plated lions of the Kanadurga temple chariot are missing,” temple Executive Officer M. Suresh Babu told IANS.
Temple officials are probing the matter with the security team to submit a report to the government in a couple of days.
The incident came to light after the temple authorities started to enhance the security of the chariot on Tuesday, on receiving instructions from the higher-ups, in the light of the Antarvedi temple chariot blaze.
“On Tuesday, when we were making the grills and enhancing security measures for the chariot, we found that the lions were missing when we opened the chariot,” said Babu.
Temple authorities are searching lockers and other secured places for the lions, missing from the wooden chariot.
“The chariot is under the supervision of the security department. We called the security department and are enquiring. Based on that we will submit our report,” he said.
As many as 130 surveillance cameras whose footage has 15 days’ backup, maintain vigil in the temple.
“Though the footage for the past 15 days is available, we could not find anything amiss in that. This incident could have happened long ago,” said Babu.
According to the executive officer, the chariot was last used in April 2019 for a procession during the Ugadi festival, and was lying idle since then.
Only when its security was being enhanced with grills and other measures on Tuesday did the officials notice the missing lions.
Babu was appointed as the EO on August 22, 2019 and the procession occurred in his predecessor’s tenure.
“I joined on August 22, 2019. The previous EO’s team used this chariot for procession in April 2019, not used afterwards,” Babu pointed out.
The temple authorities are yet to file a police complaint on the lions.
“I have not yet received any complaint from the temple authorities on the chariot lions’ issue,” Vijayawada Police Commissioner B. Sreenivasulu told IANS.
Endowments Minister Vellampalli Srinivas Rao visited the chariot and addressed the media about the safety measures being taken at all the temples and chariots in the state.
“We have ordered for the protection and security of all chariots in the state, both from the endowments department as well as the police department,” said Rao.
Rao said the Kanakdurga temple chariot is taken out for procession only twice a year, once for the Ugadi festival and later during the Brahmostavams in the chaitramasam.
The minister has also ordered all the temples to entrust an official to monitor the CCTVs on a daily basis.