Guwahati: Uzanbazar places of worship targeted again as robbers set new crime trend
Temple robbery has become the latest crime trend in Guwahati with thieves attempting to break into a different temple every day.
The trend came to light after two cases of robbery at religious places were reported earlier this week – one in a Namghar and the other in Hanuman Mandir – both located in the Uzanbazar area of the city.
In the wee hours of May 5, Sunday, thieves broke into the Borkhelia Sarbojanin Mahapurushiya Dihingia Namghar and looted it. The theft came to light at around 4:30 in the morning when the temple’s cleaner arrived to find that the lock hanging on the main gate had been broken. She made no delay in informing the managing committee of the Namghar about the incident.
Soon after, an FIR (141/19) had been lodged with Latasil Police Station under section 380 of the Indian Penal Code. According to the FIR, the thieves broke one of the two iron rings holding the lock on the main gate. They then broke open the lock that was on the grill inside and looted the Namghar.
The goods stolen, according to the Namghar managing committee, include two flowers made of gold, two flowers made of silver, two gold chains and a few thousands of rupees from the donation box which had also been broken.
Officials at the Latasil Police Station, however, informed G Plus that even as an FIR has been lodged, the list of stolen goods has not been completed yet and more stolen items are still being added to the list.
They further informed that while the Namghar has no CCTV cameras fitted in it, they’re currently relying on the footage captured by two CCTV cameras installed at Sati Radhika Shanti Road which leads to the Namghar. The police are currently investigating the matter and no arrests have been made so far.
Surprisingly, not even 48 hours later, another case of robbery at a religious place was reported at the Latasil Police Station. This time, unidentified person(s) trespassed into the Hanuman Mandir at Uzanbazar area in the city.
The incident took place at around 3 in the morning of May 7, Tuesday and came to light at around 4 am when the temple pujari showed up.
The miscreants ransacked the temple premises and also damaged the CCTV cameras installed in the temple. They then broke into the priest’s room located at the temple premises to collect the key of the temple’s main door. With the key, the miscreants opened the door of the temple and decamped with the cash in the donation box.
They broke into all the three almirahs present in the priest’s room, decamped with the cash and other valuable items from the almirahs and took away cash amounting to Rs 25,000. They then opened the main door of the temple and took all the money from the donation box.
Mukut Choudhury, secretary of the Hanuman Mandir Committee, informed G Plus that the thieves also tried to break the locks of the temple where the Hanuman idol was placed, but failed to do so although one of the locks was indeed broken.
Subsequently, a case was registered with Latasil Police Station (147/19) under section 457/380 of the Indian Penal Code and the police started its investigation.
Guwahati Commissioner of Police Deepak Kumar, Guwahati Joint Commissioner of Police, Devraj Upadhaya and Deputy Commissioner of Kamrup (Metropolitan), Biswajit Pegu, too visited the temple and took stock of the situation.
Inefficiency of Latasil PS to blame, allege residents
The looting of the Namghar and Hanuman Temple which are situated in the vicinity of the Latasil Police Station shows that the thieves have the upper hand, allege residents of the locality.
Notably, this is the third case of temple robbery in Uzanbazar within five months. The Ugratara temple, located just a few metres from the police station, was looted in the month of November. After over five months of chase, the centuries-old asthadatu idol of the temple was finally recovered by Golaghat police from Nalbari district.
The police also arrested four persons, namely Saan Hussain, Adil Ali, Rahul Ali and Mintu Roy in connection with the robbery.
Now, two more places of worship have been robbed and the people of the locality say that the development is daring and shocking. Residents of Uzanbazar complain of robbery being a regular affair in the area. They also alleged that there is no night patrolling in the area.
However, city police and district administration exude the confidence of cracking the case and nabbing the miscreants. “We have initial CCTV footage of the thieves entering the temple. We are confident of arresting the culprits soon,” expressed Biswajit Pegu.
Nov 2018 saw seven temples of Assam robbed within a week
At least seven Hindu temples of the state were broken into and robbed by miscreants in the latter part of November 2018.
The first major incident was reported on November 16 when the astadhatu idol of Goddess Ugratara that was inside the “Saktipeeth” Ugratara Temple was stolen. The thief looted and vandalized the temple and took away the main idol besides valuables and offerings, although the temple is located barely 200 metres from the Latasil police station.
Barely a week after the Ugratara Temple idol robbery in Guwahati, a similar incident occurred in Sualkuchi when the centuries-old idols from Sidheswar Devalaya temple got stolen on the night of November 23.
The idols of Goddess Durga and Lord Krishna, among other valuables, were found missing from the historic temple located on top of a hillock.
Five other temples across the state were also looted in the next 24 hours. Of the five other temples to have been looted, four are in the city's Maligaon area and one is in central Assam's Raha. Police said several idols and valuables dedicated to the deities were robbed from the temples.
Following the robberies, the then Guwahati police commissioner, Pradip Saloi, had asked the concerned police officers in Guwahati to review the security requirements at various temples in the city and make necessary arrangements with the help of the temple management committees and locals.