SECURITY has been tightened at the Hindu Temple in Swindon as the council attempts to find a new home for the town’s Hindu community.
After burglars targeted the Cheney Manor building for sixth time On Wednesday, the director of the temple, Pradeep Bhardwaj, called the latest incident a hate crime because the offenders had thrown ornamental deities and decorations on the ground.
He said: “They took religious objects, brass lamps and other objects. It is very clear to us that this is a hate crime as well as a burglary because they went upstairs, took the ornamental idols and the decorative deities, took them down to the warehouse and threw them everywhere.
“Why make all this effort just for desecration? A community targeted so many times is unacceptable, it reflects society very badly and raises serious questions.
“We cannot have the rule of law, peace and security if we cannot prevent these attacks from happening. It has hit the community in a big way and cordial interfaith relations as well. all faiths and the peaceful fabric of society.”
Following previous burglaries last year, metal deities were removed from the building last year after traditional rituals to do so were performed. Heavier marble deities remained inside and were unaffected by this week’s burglary.
Pradeep added, “We have agreed with the council to move the remaining deities to a safe storage location which is not a temple but which will keep them safe until we find a suitable place to move.”
The latest burglary occurred on the first day of India’s Republic Day celebrations, marking 75 years of India’s independence.
Swindon City Council explained how they have tried to keep the place of worship safe while enabling a more suitable and secure area to be located.
Councilor Keith Williams said: ‘It is completely unacceptable that the ancient Hindu temple has been burglarized for the sixth time and our thoughts are with the Hindu community. Desecrating a place of worship is despicable and fortunately the deities were not harmed.
“We have worked with the temple to move all of the deities in the temple to a safe place and most are now safely located elsewhere.
“The council again instituted twice-daily security visits, in addition to continuous police camera surveillance, and authorized the Hindu Temple Trust to move its remaining assets to another location with immediate effect. ”
The group that manages the building is no longer able to host religious or community events in the Darby Close structure as the council’s lease ended earlier than expected.
The Borough Council terminated the lease with immediate effect in October following the fifth burglary which, like the latest sixth incident, saw the theft of copper wiring.
The level of damage caused by the burglaries is said to have made the facility unsuitable for occupancy.
Councilor Williams added: “While we appreciate that the lease ended early for health and safety reasons, the original lease would have ended just over a week ago, so the remaining idols should have been removed to a safe place anyway.
“We will continue to work with the community and the police to find the perpetrators of this heinous crime.”