Three people suspected to have damaged a new flag post coated with gold and consecrated only on Sunday afternoon at the Sabarimala temple here have been detained. CCTV cameras identified the culprits, who were caught by the temple guards. Police are now questioning them. It was only on Sunday that the new flag post was consecrated by the priests in the presence of State Devasom Minister Kadakampally Surendran and other Devasom officials. “This is something really sad and unfortunate. We are told mercury dipped in a cloth was thrown on the lower portion of the flag post and it got damaged,” Surendran told reporters at the temple. “Police have registered a case and forensic experts are on their way to conduct appropriate tests,” he said.
Situated on the mountain ranges of the Western Ghats at an altitude of 914 metres above sea level, the Sabarimala temple is four kilometres uphill from Pamba in Pathanamthitta district, which is around 100 km from the Kerala capital. The new flag post was donated by a devotee from Andhra Pradesh. It had reportedly cost Rs 3.5 crore.CCTV visuals that have been released show a white piece of cloth being thrown at the foot of the flag post. Soon, the gold coating peels off because of chemical reaction. According to the visuals, a person aged around 65 years hurled the mercury-dipped cloth while two others standing close by caught the incident on their mobile camera.