Heightened police presence in the days leading up to the Divali holiday

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Heightened police presence in the days leading up to the Divali holiday

In the wake of a spate of incidents where places of worship were targeted by criminals, the TTPS has now decided to increase its presence in different parts of the country.

Over the past month, Hindu temples and murtis were targeted by vandals and thieves.

T&T Police Service (TTPS) Public Information Officer Insp Michelle Lewis said all reports of desecration and sacrilege were taken seriously, regardless of what religion was affected.

She said while some office-holders may not be satisfied with the response thus far, the matters were being seriously investigated.

During a debate on the 2024 Budget in the Senate on Wednesday, Independent Senator Deoroop Teemal condemned the latest act of desecration at the Ramleela Grounds in Tarouba, where an effigy was burnt.

Teemal also raised concerns that such incidents, when reported to the police, were not met with the necessary sense of urgency, as the belief was that a mischief-maker or vagrant was often responsible.

He also argued that the presence of alcohol and meat at some desecrated sites was evidence that there was a more troubling motive.

Lewis said that in addition to these enquiries, several crime suppression exercises will be rolled out to maintain law and order for the height of the upcoming celebration, which culminate on November 12 with the Divali holiday.

“Particularly in the Central and Southern Divisions, we have had the increase in patrols in those areas to give that level of comfort and security to those persons and generally throughout the country,” Lewis said.

“We are also going into the Divali period and so you would also see an increase, particularly with the Blue Line Operations through the Commissioner of Police. We want to give the assurance to religious bodies, particularly those of the Hindu faith, that the police take your reports and they take it very seriously.”

Under section 26 of the Larceny Act, sacrilege is defined as the act of breaking and entering a place of divine worship and committing an offence. Individuals found guilty of sacrilege are liable to ten years’ imprisonment.