Soon after installation gold-coated mast damaged at Sabarimala

Soon after installation gold-coated mast damaged at Sabarimala

Soon after installation gold-coated mast damaged at Sabarimala
The new gold-coated mast at the Ayyappa Temple in Sabarimala was left damaged, allegedly by three men who visited the temple soon after its ceremonial installation on Sunday. A portion of the gold-coated base of the temple mast was discoloured.

Police took five men into custody from Pampa in connection with the incident which has raised concerns over what is also viewed as a security lapse. The police are following up on leads from CCTV footage of an elderly man pouring contents of a bottle on to the panchavargathara (base) of the mast, with two other men watching. Unconfirmed reports said the detained men were from Vijayawada.

Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran and officials of the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) which manages the administration of the temple said mercury could have been used to cause the damage. “Based on preliminary investigation, the damage was caused when the temple was closed after the afternoon puja. Personal enmity could be a reason,” Surendran said without elaborating.

TDB president Prayar Gopalakrishnan told Deccan Herald that a Devaswom guard was able to identify the suspects “just in a matter of hours” and hand them over to the police. The suspects were reported as detained from a Kerala State Road Transport Corporation bus stand in Pampa.

The Devaswom Minister said forensic experts would be at the hill shrine to collect evidence. A probe led by Pathanamthitta SP Satheesh Bino is on. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said senior police officials were at the sannidhanam as part of the investigation.

A 10-day festival is set to commence at the hill shrine on June 28. The installation of the mast, a stem of treated teak covered with gold-plated copper, was held between 11.40 am and 1.40 pm on Sunday. The TDB had received 9.16 kg of gold as offering to coat the temple mast.
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