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Jain idols restored after protests in Gujarat

Jain idols restored after protests in Gujarat
Jain idols restored after protests in Gujarat

AHMEDABAD: The Gujarat government on Monday directed officials in Panchmahal district to restore age-old Jain idols to their original location near the steps leading to the Kalika Mata temple on Pavagadh Hill.

The decision came after community members protested claiming that the idols of Jain Tirthankars (supreme spiritual teachers) were removed by the temple trust during a renovation project. However, the trust explained that the idols may have been accidentally moved during the dismantling of an old shed on the stairs, insisting that there was no malicious intent behind the action.

These Jain idols were originally placed on either side of the steps of an ancient, currently unused path leading to the hill temple. On Monday, some community members discovered that the idols had been removed from the side walls and placed in one location, Jain leader Dinesh Shah said.

When members of the Jain community and religious leaders heard about the removal of six to seven idols, they staged protests in Vadodara, Halol and Surat, and submitted memorandums to district collectors. In response, Harsh Sanghavi, the state minister of Gujarat, after consultation with Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel, ordered the restoration of the idols to their original positions.

“These idols, placed there centuries ago, have been worshiped by people for generations. No permission has ever been given to any trust or individual to remove them. This act has deeply hurt the religious sentiments of many,” Sanghvi said.

“After discussing the matter with the chief minister, the District Collector of Panchmahal has been instructed to restore the idols to their original location near the steps,” he added.

In a memorandum submitted to the Halol police, community leader Kiran Duggad accused the trustees of the Shree Kalika Mataji Mandir Trust of removing the idols. He demanded immediate restoration of the idols and registration of an FIR against those responsible for ‘hurting the religious sentiments of Jains’. Vinod Variya, a temple trustee, held a meeting with Jain leaders and district authorities in Halol where he announced that the idols would be reinstalled in their original places. “I want to make it clear that there was no desecration of any religious structure,” Variya said. “Some idols may have been moved during the renovation. However, we have achieved the solution of restoring the idols to their place.”

Idols of Tirthankars have been displaced during the renovation

The decision came after community members protested claiming that the idols of Jain Tirthankars were removed by the temple trust during a renovation project. However, the trust explained that the idols may have been moved during dismantling of an old shed on the stairs