Saraswati Idol appeared in Bhojshala like Ramlala in Babri

A controversy has erupted in Dhar town of Madhya Pradesh after some unidentified men tried to install an idol of Goddess Saraswati in the disputed 12th century Bhojshala complex on Sunday. The police removed the idol and increased security in the area to prevent any communal clashes.

Bhojshala is a historical site that has been a bone of contention between Hindus and Muslims for decades. Hindus claim that it was a temple of Goddess Saraswati, also known as Vagdevi, built by King Bhoja in the 11th century. Muslims assert that it was a mosque of Kamal Maula, a Sufi saint, constructed in the 14th century.

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) protects the site, which the Hindus consider to be Vagdevi’s temple, and the Muslims treat as Kamal Maula’s mosque. The ASI guidelines released on April 7, 2003 state that Muslims can offer namaz at the premises on Fridays, while Hindus can perform prayers on Tuesdays.

Dr. Indrajeet Balkawar, the Additional Superintendent of Police in Dhar, stated, “Unidentified accused cut metallic wired fencing from the rear and placed the stone idol inside the premises. Subsequently, ASI officials have registered a case against the accused under IPC Sections 452, 295, and 153-A.”

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Security personnel found an idol of Vagdevi inside the Bhojshala on Sunday, causing tension to break out in the area. Authorities subsequently removed the idol, and Dhar superintendent of police (SP) Manoj Kumar Singh said that a probe is underway to identify the people responsible for this act.

Singh said, “We have stepped up security at the premises in view of possible escalation of the matter and we are holding discussions to resolve the issue between the two communities amicably.”

The district administration received a memorandum from Shehar qazi Waqar Saddique on Sunday evening, who demanded action against those who tried to install the idol and the security personnel at the site. He said that the incident was not just a breach of law and order, but also had a hidden agenda behind it.

On the other hand, Bhojshala Sangarsh committee member Gopal Sharma, who has been campaigning for the Hindu rights over the monument, condemned the administration for taking away the idol. “He and others had seen the idol inside the Bhojshala in a photo and video on Sunday morning, but it was gone by the time they reached there,” he said.. Sharma said that the administration should not have seized the idol as it was a matter of faith. They would protest if the idol was not restored, he warned.

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Meanwhile, the Hindu Front For Justice, a group dealing with legal issues of the Hindu community, filed a petition in the Indore bench of Madhya Pradesh high court in May 2022. The petition challenged the ASI’s 2003 decision and sought permission to perform daily prayers at the site. The court issued notices to the ASI, Centre and the state government on the petition. The state has not responded to the notice yet.

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