Recently, four unidentified robbers entered Shirdi Sai temple of Baddi and after overpowering the security guard they took away around 9.5kg of silver beside cash. In November last year, a monk was murdered in Kinnaur district and century-old precious mixed metal idol of Guru Padamsambhava was stolen.
On July 23 last year, 10 precious idols were stolen from the temple of Devta Sahib Bondra in Banchhuchh village of Rohru tehsil in Shimla district which were later recovered from Sarahidhar area of Rohru after Delhi police had arrested three Nepalese nationals involved in the crime and the accused admitting their involvement in temple heist.
These are some of the recent incidents which indicate how unsafe the temples and monasteries in Himachal Pradesh have become. According to sources, during the last 10 years, over 150 temples and monasteries have been targeted by burglars. Around 20 years back, a priceless idol, stolen from Kamrunag temple of Kinnaur district was later found in Italy.
Himachal Pradesh DGP, Sanjay Kumar said that to beef up the security arrangements of temples and monasteries, a decision to divide them in three categories has been taken. He said that around Rs 1 crore would be spent on the purchase of CCTV cameras. He said that 27 CCTV cameras have already been purchased. "In the identified temples, CCTV cameras would be installed in the entry and exit points," he added. He said that temples would be categorized according to their assets and security would be devised accordingly. "The community too would be involved in the programme to make the system foolproof," he added.
Every village of HP has its own places of worship and majority of these have priceless idols and jewellery due to which burglars keep sniffing for an opportunity to strike. There are around 26,500 places of worship in the 20,118 villages of the state. Of them, temples count for around 5,000. Providing security to all these temples is not possible for the state police due to shortage of manpower, sources said.
Home guard personnel have been deployed at 41 ancient temples of the state while the other temples are dependent on their committees or villagers for security.
A senior government official, requesting anonymity, said that in Himachal, there are only 26 government-owned temples, whose security is the responsibility of the administration. "Rest of the temples in the state are owned by villagers and their security is taken care of by private management committees," he added.
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