Who destroyed Kashmir's Jain temple?

After the Sikhs, it is the turn of the Jains whose only temple in Srinagar has been burnt down by a mob. Before someone begins to cry wolf and starts paying lip service, do look at the issue in its entirety.

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.


  1. This story is the biggest canard ever told. Doesn't quote anyone locally, neither the police nor the govt. The background is that this was a 'private' temple in the premises of hotel silver star, housed in a temporary structure on a 3 year ...contract with between the Jainists in Mumbai and the hotel owners. The structure had been put in place sincxe a lot of Jain tourists stay in this hotel. However, The contract ran out some time back and the temple was duly and appropriately dismantled by the Jainists themselves after they din't renew the contract with the hotel owners. The Jainists took the idols back to Mumbai.

    cort RK

  2. A report in Times of India of today (21st August) page 11 says that a Jain Temple has been burnt down in kashmir.

    The intolerance level in Muslims is phenomenal. If they live in peace and allow others to live in Peace, then everything would be fine.

    While they do not want Sikhs, Pundits or Buddhists & Jains in the valley or destroy their temples, they want as a right a mosque at ground zero.

    The question here is not of the American Constitution; yes, the constitution does provide that right, but do you have conscience? How you can be so utterly insensitive. The attack of 9/11 had impacted Americans as nothing else. Then why this insistence of building the mosque there. This is like rubbing salt into the wounds.
    An old structure, Babri masjid, in Ayodhya was razed down. There was and there are riots & what not? Now when a Jain temple is razed, Bamiyan Buddhas are destroyed, Dhakeswari Temple in Dhaka is defiled and vanadlized, where are the protests? What the moderate Muslims have to say about this?

  3. Hello Farzana,
    smile it is only a discussion.I am willing to understand not capitulate.

    The government Of India is far from omnipotent.To expect some sort of miracle protection from it is falacy.Ask IDP'S from Kashmir.

    Kashmir had elections and had chosen its leaders .If the people or distractors do not accept majority rule and want to stop operations and education in the state ,i feel sorry i have no sympathy for them.How come with Little support these rebel rousers have made life imposible for ordinary citizens.

    Just for the purpose of understanding their have not been even token elections in POK.

    If as an Indian you find some justification for the actions of protesters in curfew and blame the government for an effort to maintain law and order,I do not understand your stand.Yes i blame them(government of J&K) for not maintaining the peace in the valley.
    State government has failed miserably in law and order.We have many very obstinate players in India to whom their views only matter. National progress and improvement of quality of life issues of the masses is not important.

    We are blind sided .

    Please tell me why are you not blaming the culprits who burned the temple(even if only couple of years old).Where is your anger? I find that you are parsing the argument.
    Burning of others property is violence.It is not the question of financial loss.

    This is not cheerful.Difficult things never are.

    Understanding,love and acceptance are the ways .A louder voice does not make one more correct.

    I am proud of the secular traditions of India .I can say with certainty that our people have developed in sixty or so years to a level America took two hundred years .

    One can criticise India and USA for all the flaws .In comparison to others they still have fared well.

    Their are several hundred mosques in New York when will you petition for Saudi Arabia to allow temples and churches in the country of birth of Islam.

    I feel so saddened by the fate of Ahamadi's in Pakistan.

    Thanks for the discussion.

    kul bhushan

  4. RK, thank you! Have added an update.


  5. You cannot rubbish the militants

    Farzana's pro-"militant" leanings on display again...how dare anyone tarnish the good militants who never drove anyone out of kashmir(the pandits, she says, left kashmir on their own)

  6. thanks for posting all this. i've been looking for "real" news on this for days, and asked help from friends and relatives, but no one convinced me it was true. it all sounded very fishy. the jains i know were quick to believe emails about this, and to forward it to others, but no one really did any fact-checking. i'm jain myself, but i'm also quite cynical ;)

  7. Arjun:

    The full sentence was "You cannot rubbish the militants and then seek their help in solving a problem that is under a cloud and raises more questions."

    You are welcome.

    Hey, checked with Sunanda Pushkar about how she had to flee to Dubai?


    Cynicism has no religion! And be proud of it because you are not wearing blinkers or just riding some wave of concern without seeing the issue for what it can be.

    - - -

    The rest of the points regarding the subject of the Jain temple would have been answered with the update.

    This has nothing to do with whether they have elections in PoK or not. It is occupied territory unlike the Kashmir we have.

  8. Just a couple of questions:
    1. How many countries with a muslim majority are democratic?
    2. What is your opinion on the pogrom of kashmiri pandits carried out in the valley? (Don't worry people argue that jews walked into gas chambers voluteriliy. So you are not alone. REJOICE)

  9. 1. Ask those who go to those countries to work and why.
    2. Pogrom? Get a dictionary or give us the figures.

    A counter-query: what do you have to say about the 'burnt down' Jain temple?

  10. # 1 above is mainly for non-Muslims, assuming many Muslims would be ok (which I know they are not, but just to go along with the archetype).


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