Antarvedi, Sep 13 (IANS) Police personnel in Andhra Pradesh's East Godavari district probing the Sri Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy temple chariot blaze have tested positive for coronavirus, an official said on Sunday.
"In the last 3-4 days, I, the Additional SP (admin), Razole circle Inspector and others have tested positive," East Godavari's Superintendent of Police Adnan Nayeem Asmi told IANS.
Though infected, Asmi is currently asymptomatic and doing well.
"I am asymptomatic, and taking caring of myself at home," he said.
Police officials suspect that they contracted the virus while controlling the mobs which had descended on the temple village from outside Antarvedi. Two of the protesters have also tested positive.
"Normally we take protection but at that point of time with so many people around....," Asmi said.
Following the chariot blaze, many non-local protesters had descended on the temple village, leading to the arrest of 43 of them.
People came from nearby villages and even places as far away as Guntur, Kakinada, Rajamundry and even Tumuluri Lakshmi from Hyderabad.
To control the mobs, police were compelled to be close proximity to the protesters, giving a miss to social distancing and this could have led to the infections.
Already, the police in East Godavari has been burdened with infections before the Antarvedi incident itself.
Asmi said the district police department is stretched with 800 personnel testing positive for coronavirus, out of which only 300 have recovered so far.
To cope with policing demands, additional police forces from other districts and AP Special Police and district special teams were deputed.
On September 5, a six-decade-old seven-tiered wooden chariot of the famous Sri Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy temple at Antarvedi in East Godavari district was gutted in a fire under mysterious circumstances, leading to a spate of protests
Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy has handed over the probe to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).