This is not a heritage site. A Mumbai family built it for Jain tourists, specifically to fulfill their mother’s wish for she believed that many of the visitors do not start their day without prayers. Interestingly, the family runs a travel agency. This temple was built two years ago. Clearly, Article 370 is not applicable here, for this is not residential property. Two years ago militancy was rife in the Valley and yet they managed to construct this place of worship. It is obvious that no one hampered their efforts.
Jyotin Doshi, whose family built the temple, says:
“We don’t want anything out of this. Such an issue is easily made into a political controversy. We only want closure through nonviolence. Our idols are safe and that’s what matters.”
He is right. People do create a controversy. It is important to note that this incident took place last Saturday, but has been reported in today’s papers after yesterday’s news about those unsigned letters to the Sikhs. Is it great timing by certain elements in the media or did the Doshi family being used or are they just canny business people who, now that they have installed the idols in Chintamani Parshwanath derasar in Sabarmati, Gujarat, can afford to talk? The news spread (how and why?) and more than 14,000 people turned up for darshan.
Are you wondering how idols from a burnt-town temple were saved before the temple was destroyed?
Here is what the TOI report states quoting Doshi:
“There was curfew in the Valley but he (the priest) noticed people gathering outside the temple,’’ he says. The priest, who is disturbed and has now returned to his village near Lucknow, quickly gathered the three idols, which were sculpted out of panchdhatu (an alloy of gold, silver, copper, iron and zinc), and hid them in a hotel. “Three hours later, the mob struck and destroyed what we had built,’’ says Doshi.
Let us get the sequence right. A mob gathers outside the temple during curfew. There is no police force around. The priest does not call up the cops. He just picks up the idols, manages to get out and check into a hotel with these while the mob is outside. The mob strikes after three hours, giving him enough time to do all this?
More is to come:
Two members of Doshi’s team from Mumbai, Apurva Bhansali and Jiten Dharod, flew to Srinagar the next day when the curfew was lifted. They packed the idols in cardboard boxes and flew to Sabarmati.
A curfew being lifted is not something that is planned. Apparently, the very next day this happens, the men from Mumbai manage to fly to Srinagar, meet the priest and take the idols. Is anyone aware about security checks at the airport? What about those mobs everywhere? And what about the one that razed the temple? The idea behind such destruction is always a show of strength and religiosity. They must be stupid not to look for idols if the intention was to bulldoze the believers, who in this case were tourists. There is no mention of their presence there at the time.
It is imperative that the state government orders an enquiry. It is not for the Doshis to say it is all right after they have got their idols back and managed to house them elsewhere and got worshippers trooping in for a look at the saved ones. Any property on any land has to go through the process of law to decide the fate of the culprits. Why don’t they want to know?
This is what I had posed regarding the unsigned letters to the Sikhs. I was wondering why they did not approach the relevant authorities and instead chose to address the separatists. It ought to be a niggling doubt in anyone’s mind, at least minds that are not boxed in with a single thought process. You cannot rubbish the militants and then seek their help in solving a problem that is under a cloud and raises more questions.
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Updated at 7.55 PM:
After an alert reader posted a comment here, I ran a search to verify. These are extracts from a report that appeared in Kashmir Dispatch:
Srinagar, August 21: A report in The Times of India’s (TOI) Mumbai edition about the burning of a Jain temple in Srinagar has been termed “mischievious” by the state government. “The news report about the burning of a Jain temple in Srinagar is absolutely baseless and it’s a mischievous report,” said Mehraj-ud-Din Kakroo, District Commissioner Srinagar.
While speaking to Kashmir Dispatch, General Manager Imran from Silver Star Hotel, said, “The temporary temple was dismantled and the idols were removed by the Mumbai-based tour operator after his three-year contract expired last month.”
“We had a three-year long contract with the travel agency for hosting tourists, mostly from Jain faith. The tour operator asked us to build a temporary Jain temple in the hotel to attract the Jain followers and facilitate their prayers in the hotel,” explained Imran.
“It was not burnt and TOI will come out with a corrigendum,” said Jyotin Doshi, Chairman of Gem Tours, Mumbai, who facilitated the construction of the Jain temple in the Hotel told Kashmir Dispatch.
"The structure was broken; we don’t know by whom, we had a contract with the hotel for five years under which the temple was built on the hotel property," he said.