Heavy police force was deployed at a disputed monument in Dhar district of Madhya Pradesh last week. The ancient college, called Bhojshala carrying an idol of Mata Saraswati, was turned into a Mosque in the 14th century. Then came the British, who took the idol from the temple and moved it to the London Museum. Since then, the site is called a disputed property between two communities. Hindus are allowed to visit the site on Tuesdays or Naag Panchami, else, it is a no-go zone with police guarding posts and Mosques all around. Muslims offer namaz in the same building every Friday as they call it a Mosque.
This Nag Panchami, on September 8, a video started circulating on social media with claims that an idol of Maa Saraswati (Wagh Devi) had appeared in the temple miraculously. Following this, the police reached the spot and called it an act by some miscreants. They shifted the idol from the premises to the office of the Archeological Survey of India and also registered a complaint against unidentified people.
Readers should know that around 1000 to 1055 AD, the greatest monarch of the Paramara dynasty, Raja Bhoj, built a college in the Dhar district of Madhya Pradesh. This place later came to be known as Bhojshala. With subsequent Islamic invasions, this library, which had a big Saraswati temple, was turned into a Mosque in the 14th century AD, called Kamal Maulana Mosque. Since then, the monument has been disputed, leading to a number of controversies between Hindus and Muslims.
Notably, the idol of Mata Saraswati called ‘Waghdevi’ was shifted to the London Museum during colonial rule. The vicinity of Dhar, however, yielded another idol of Mata Saraswati, which fits well with the former image of the goddess. The site is now disputed as it is surrounded by multiple Mosques and the idol is missing from the garbha grih.
The Hindus are allowed to visit the site only on Tuesdays and Naag Panchami. According to the guidelines set by the Archaeological Survey, Muslims can offer prayers at the Bhojshala every Friday and during Islamic festivals.
The police took action after coming to know about the development. The idol, which was left behind by the unidentified men, has been shifted safely out of Bhojshala.
Dhar’s Additional Superintendent of Police Indrajeet Balkawar said: “The accused cut metallic wired fencing from the rear and placed the stone idol inside the premises. A case has been registered against the unidentified accused on the complaint of the ASI officials, under IPC Sections 452, 295 and 153-A”.
The ASP told media that, they will identify the accused based on the CCTV footage installed in the premises. The accused will be nabbed soon, those spreading misinformation on social media around the installation of the idol will also face punishment, he added.
Bhoj Utsav Samiti convener, Ashok told TOI that, “It is a matter of happiness for the people of Dhar as the idol of Wagh Devi has appeared on its own in Bhojshala. The administration has shifted the idol to an undisclosed place, it should place it back to where it was, or else the Hindus will call for a protest”.
Sources say, the police reached the spot at around 5:30 am with heavy force and installed them around the disputed site. The site has been to disputes a number of times.
There are as many as three Mosques around the temple and comes Friday Muslims in large numbers gather just to offer namaz in Bhojshala and every Tuesday, Hindus reach the site to worship.
Following the removal of the appeared idol, the Hindus will organise a maha-aarti this Tuesday (September 12). The locals also demanded the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government in the state and the Narendra Modi government in the centre to make efforts and bring the idol back to Bharat from the London Museum.