The East Godavari police in Andhra Pradesh have refuted the false information being propagated by several BJP leaders that a pastor had “illegally occupied” a Rama temple and conducted a Christian prayer meeting there.
Several BJP leaders had shared a video of a prayer gathering at K Gangavaram village of Pamarru mandal in East Godavari district, which appears to be taking place adjacent to a Rama temple, which is locked.
The video was shared with claims that the temple was illegally occupied, calling for the “culprits” to be arrested and complaining that the deity Ram had been “insulted” in Andhra Pradesh.
Refuting the news as false, East Godavari Superintendent of Police M Ravindranath Babu clarified that a family dispute between the woman who organised the prayer meeting and her son had been blown up and falsely distorted into a communal issue.
'No Disputes Between Local Hindus and Christians': Police
A statement from East Godavari police, which was also posted on Twitter, said that a woman named Kada Mangayamma had been conducting Christian prayer meetings on the road situated in front of her house, which is located next to the Rama temple.
Poojas are being offered at the temple daily, and there are no disputes between local Hindus and Christians, police said, adding that there are cordial relations between the two communities in the village.
As the prayers were being conducted on Wednesday, 30 March, Mangayamma’s elder son Srinivas, who lives in Kakinada, showed up and began arguing with his mother, saying she was spending huge amounts of money over the prayer meetings, police said.
Following this, Mangayamma and others called the Pamarru police, who went and pacified the issue. However, Srinivas’s cousin Venkata Ramana, who also lives in the same village, held a grudge over the call made to the police, and intentionally posted false information on social media that Srinivas had been booked for trying to stop the prayer meeting.
The social media post was made with the intention of provoking religious hatred, police said. The police also clarified that no case had been registered over the entire issue.
False Claims by BJP Andhra Pradesh Gen Secy
Earlier in the day on 1 April, BJP Andhra Pradesh General Secretary Vishnu Vardhan Reddy also shared the fake news with the video, by falsely claiming that “Christian missionaries in Andhra Pradesh had occupied a Ram mandir and were doing Christian prayers.”
He also falsely alleged that Hindus who questioned this were being booked. He also went on to attack the YSRCP government, alleging that it was practicing “anti-Hindu appeasement politics” and favouring Christians.
Ever since the YS Jagan Mohan Reddy government came to power, the BJP in Andhra Pradesh, and occasionally even the Telugu Desam Party and Jana Sena Party, have repeatedly attacked the Chief Minister over his Christian faith. The opposition parties have repeatedly alleged that forced religious conversions were being encouraged by the YSRCP government, although there has been no substantial evidence of such a phenomenon so far.
(Published in arrangement with The News Minute.)