Former Union minister Gajapathi Raju booked for creating ruckus

Visakhapatnam: Police in Andhra Pradesh’s Vizianagaram district on Thursday booked a case against former union minister P. Ashok Gajapathi Raju in connection with an incident at Ramateertham temple.

The Telugu Desam Party (TDP) politburo member, who is a hereditary trustee of the temple, and others were booked under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

The case was booked at Nellimarla Police Station on a complaint by temple executive officer Prasad Rao.

The TDP leader and others were booked for using criminal force to deter a public servant from discharging his duty, damaging public property, and creating a nuisance.

Raju and his supporters had tried to remove the plaque installed to lay the foundation stone for the reconstruction of the temple, alleging that there was a violation of protocol and temple traditions. He entered into an argument with the officials and tried to remove the plaque.

The incident occurred minutes before the foundation stone was laid by deputy chief minister P. Pushpa Srivani and endowments minister V. Srinivas.

Raju alleged that the state government ignored the protocol and also violated tradition and culture. He said the temple committee was not consulted before deciding the foundation stone ceremony.

Raju also turned down the invitation to break the coconut at the ceremony. He argued that only the trustee was supposed to perform puja and lay the foundation stone.

Raju’s family had been functioning as trustees of the temple for the last 400 years.

The temple was in news in December last year after unidentified persons vandalized a 400-year-old idol of Lord Rama, triggering massive protest by the opposition parties.

The YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) government had refused to accept Raju’s donation of Rs one lakh for the reconstruction of the temple.