BJP state president Kummanam Rajasekharan has criticised the police investigation after the newly installed gold-plated flag mast at Sabarimala was found damaged, triggering widespread concern among devotees. 

The 'panchavargathara' (the base of the mast) was found damaged on Sunday by some chemical, suspected to be mercury. Five persons, hailing from Vijayawada, were taken into custody in connection with the incident. 

Kummanam said the police version that the accused poured mercury on the mast as part of a ritual was false as such a ritual doesn’t exist in Andhra Pradesh or Telangana.

“The police and the Devaswom minister have been trying to play down the incident from the beginning. IG Manoj Abraham came out with the explanation that mercury was poured as part of a ritual. We got in touch with the chief tantris in Tirupathi and other places and they are unaware of any such tradition in Andhra or Telengana. Hence the IG should clarify the source of this misleading information,” Manorama Online quoted BJP chief as saying.

New flag mast at Sabarimala temple found damaged

Kummanam pointed out that the police decision to play down the incident, despite intelligence agencies warning of terror threats to Sabarimala, is shocking and concerning.

Meanwhile, the flag mast has been repaired and restored to previous condition.  
 
The gold-plated flag mast at the famed Lord Ayyappa Temple in Sabarimala was found damaged soon after it was installed on Sunday. The five Andhra natives had been taken into custody soon after the incident based on CCTV visuals from the temple premises. 

In view of the incident, the Travancore Devaswom Board, which manages the hill shrine, has decided to strengthen the security from the downhill Nilackal to the 'sannidhanam'.

"We are planning to install a new security system that will enable us to scan and monitor pilgrims as well as vehicles from Nilackal onwards," TDB President Prayar Gopalakrishnan said. 

The teakwood mast, covered using 9.16 kg of gold, 300 kg of copper and 17 kg of silver, was ceremonially installed by the head priest Kandararu Rajeevararu after performing purification rituals on Sunday morning.