The Karnataka Police have arrested six persons suspected of vandalising the grave of a 16th-century Madhva scholar near Hampi in Ballari district last week, The Hindu reported on Sunday. The accused, one of whom is a priest, were arrested from Andhra Pradesh.
Nava Brindavana, located in Anegundi village on an island in the Tungabhadra river, is the resting place of nine saints of the Madhva tradition. The Brindavana of Vyasaraja Tirtha was found vandalised on Thursday morning, leading to anger on social media. Bharatiya Janata Party MP Tejasvi Surya raised the matter in the Lok Sabha the same day, and demanded the installation of CCTV cameras at these sites.
The following day, hundreds of devotees from nearby areas volunteered to rebuild the structure with the help of architects from other cities and officials of the Archaeological Survey of India.
The six men arrested by the Koppal Police on Saturday night were allegedly treasure hunters. One accused is absconding. The police seized a four-wheeler and tools such as pickaxes, shovels and spades that they allegedly used to dig the site.
Koppal Superintendent of Police Renuka K Sukumar had formed five teams to trace the suspects. “The quick result is the outcome of the hard work we did after the incident came to light on Thursday,” she told The Hindu. “The efforts put into the investigation coupled, of course, with technology helped us crack the case quickly.”
Bala Narasaiah, who was one of the six arrested, is a priest at a temple in Andhra Pradesh. He allegedly brought the others together to dig the grave of Vyasaraja based on a story told by a dead seer. According to the story, the saint was buried with diamonds and pearls gifted by King Krishnadevaraya.
The accused arrived at the site on July 14 and had to dig the grave themselves after some workers they had employed refused to do so as they believed the location was holy.
“They started digging around 8.30 pm on Wednesday after the priest conducted a puja,” Ballari Inspector General of Police M Nanjundaswami said, according to The Times of India. “They dug up the samadhi [grave] till 2.40 am on Thursday and stopped after hitting a rock.”
In February, four youths were arrested after a video of them vandalising pillars at the Vishnu Temple Complex in Hampi went viral on social media. A court fined each of them Rs 70,000 and forced them to re-erect the pillars.