The arrest of Anwar Ali, accused of vandalising and setting ablaze a historic 200-year-old Shiv-Narayan temple, was followed by a lead pursued by Ratabari Police, led by station in-charge Uttam Adhikari and Suraj Dutta, acting on information gathered after more than 10 days of investigation into the temple arson on November 7. The accused had been evading capture, taking refuge in the neighbouring state.
In a shocking incident on the early hours of November 7, miscreants set ablaze a revered 200-year-old Shiv-Parvati and Lakshmi-Narayan temple in the Ratabari area of Karimganj district, southern Assam. The community learned of the devastating act later that morning, discovering the sole place of worship reduced to ashes.
Situated in the forest of Damsora village, the isolated temple, established in the early 1800s by Devi Ram Barman, held deep significance for local tribal people who have worshipped there for generations. The incident has stirred tensions among the worshippers, with distraught villagers asserting that the miscreants intentionally targeted the temple to wound the religious sentiments of tribal Hindus.
Adding to the complexity, villagers claim that recent evictions of Muslim encroacher families from forest areas led to ongoing disputes, with encroachers allegedly reoccupying parts of the forest. Unhappy with the special provisions allowing tribal populations to stay, the encroachers engaged in conflicts with tribal villagers. Notably, three empty plastic petrol gallons found at the temple site have fueled suspicions of a deliberate arson attack, further intensifying demands for justice among the distressed community.”
The tribals, who have dwelled in the village for centuries with forest department permission, have faced escalating conflicts as the Muslim community encroached on forest land, leading to recent evictions.
Despite eviction efforts by the district administration, the encroachment persisted, exacerbating disputes with the tribal population. Local allegations now point to the temple arson as an act of revenge for the recent eviction, although the true motive remains subject to police investigation.
Upon discovering the charred remnants of their cherished temple and idols, including Shiv-Parvati and Lakshmi-Narayan, tribal women broke into tears. Demanding a thorough investigation and swift apprehension of the perpetrators, the community is grappling with heightened tensions, viewing the incident as a direct assault on Sanatan Dharma and their deeply held beliefs.”