Faced with severe criticism from all the opposition parties and Hindu religious groups, Andhra Pradesh government has decided to seek a CBI probe into the burning of the chariot of famous Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy temple at Antarvedi in the district of East Godavari. The mishap occurred on the intervening night of Saturday and Sunday in which 62-year old teakwood chariot completely burned to ashes.

Andhra Pradesh state government had already taken suspension action on temple executive officer and two employees. Endowments secretary JSV Prasad was also transferred to a non-focal post during the same time. Visakha Sri Sarada Peetham seer Swaroopanandendra Saraswati welcomed the decision and hoped that the CBI would bring the real culprits to book.

The measures did not satisfy the Hindu religious groups and even the political parties. Recalling the similar incident in Nellore district a few months ago and the series of incidents on temples, most of them expressed doubts of conspiracy behind the torching of the chariot. Viswa Hindu Parishad, Bhajrang Dal, and several other groups staged protests, defying the prohibitory orders clamped by the police.

Jana Sena Party president Pawan Kalyan observed a day’s deeksha on Thursday. The BJP organised protests across the state. The main opposition Telugu Desam Party not only formed fact finding committee headed by former home minister N Chinna Rajappa but also staged protests. TDP president N Chandrababu Naidu alleged that the YSR Congress government was instigating such attacks on Hindu religious places by not bringing the culprits to book. Majority of the opposition groups demanded for the resignation of endowments minister Vellampalli Srinivas.

An official communique said director general of police Gautam Sawang had written to the Union Home Ministry seeking a CBI probe into the chariot burning incident, soon after a directive from the chief minister. Orders handing over the case to the premier investigation agency are expected to be issued on Friday.