Visakhapatnam, July 21, 2019: A circular from the office of the Visakhapatnam police commissioner asking police stations to take steps to prevent attacks on Christians and churches has led political uproar and protests.
The Bharatiya Janata Party leaders objected to the circular’s choice of words. They say the police should not have mentioned any community or place of worship by name.
The BJP leaders include former federal minister D Purandeswari and legislator PVN Madhav.
The commissioner’s office issued the circular after a local pastor submitted a memorandum to the Andhra Pradesh state government, seeking protection for churches and Christians in the southeastern Indian state. He alleged that right wing activists targeted Christians and their places of worship.
The police chief reissued the circular without refering to any community, but the BJP leaders remain unsatisfied.
Visakhapatnam police commissioner Rajeev Kumar Meena issued the circular on July 4 in response to a petition by B Daniel Shyam through the CM’s Praja Darbar and Spandana portal. The petition was sent to all the districts for necessary action.
The circular instructed station house officers in Visakhapatnam to conduct intensive patrolling by covering all churches and provide protection to them. He also instructed ACPs to visit all churches in their jurisdiction once a month, discuss with church elders on such activities and take preventive measures.
The memo irked BJP workers. “We will meet the chief minister on Monday (July 22) and tell him about the feelings of people of different religions. We will not leave this issue,” Madhav said
Another BJP leader alleged the circular showed that the government was interested protecting only churches and Christians, and not people of other religions or their places of worship. “Vishwa Hindu Parishad and other organizations would protest and submit a memorandum to the police commissioner. If they do not withdraw this memo we would take up a state-wide agitation,” city BJP president Nagendra warned.
Since the city police chief is on leave, the deputy commissioners of police (DCPs) of law and order, Ranga Reddy and Uday Kumar, jointly addressed media persons by showing the revised memo in which the CP instructed police officials to take necessary precautions to prevent physical attacks on any religious place or places or institutions.
ACPs and SHOs were instructed to conduct periodical meeting with area peace committees. But the revised memo did not have any date of issuance or the signature of the police commissioner or the officer concerned. “A mistake had taken place due to one of the staff members. It’s an internal memo and we don’t know how it had gone out. The revised memo was issued within a short time,” the DCPs clarified.