The administration of Digambar Jain College in Baghpat district of Uttar Pradesh has accused members of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, the student wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, of threatening to demolish an idol and temple of a Jain goddess installed inside the campus, The Hindu reported on Thursday.
A widely shared video on social media showed a group of men, wearing saffron scarves with ABVP written on them. The group can be seen at the entrance of the temple even as police personnel tried to reason with them. They can be heard shouting “Vidyarthi Parishad zindabad” and “Bharat Mata ki jai”.
The members of the Hindutva group allegedly demanded that the idol be removed, and replaced with the statue of Saraswati, the Hindu deity of learning. A complaint was filed by the college principal, Virendra Singh, but no arrests have been made as of Thursday evening.
Singh said the ABVP members used “indecent language” in front of the temple. “We fear that these unruly students and others [outsiders] involved with them can cause harm to the temple and statue of Ma Shrutdevi, the symbol of faith of Jain devotees,” he told the newspaper.
DK Jain, joint secretary of the college, also said that around 25-30 students barged into the campus along with some outsiders and attempted to vandalise the idol.
Baraut Station House Officer Ajay Sharma told The Hindu that there had been a misunderstanding as some students affiliated with the ABVP thought the Shrutdevi idol was made after modifying an idol of Hindu deity Saraswati. “It was nothing,” he added. “There was a confusion. We made them sit together and hold talks.”
Sharma said the police summoned both the sides to understand their point of view. He added: “Further investigation is underway. Let’s see what happens after that.”
The Digambar Jain College principal told The Week that rumours about the idol started last month when some restoration work was done on the statue. “Someone floated the wrong information that a statue of Goddess Saraswati had been placed below that of the Tirthankar,” he said.
Meanwhile, a meeting was held between Jain groups and intellectuals after the incident. Historian Amit Rai Jain said that by climbing on the idol with their footwear, the students had breached the dignity of the goddess.
“They threatened to demolish the temple and issued an ultimatum saying that if the idol and temple of Shrutdevi are not removed of seven days they will demolish them,” Jain told reporters. “This is highly condemnable. The Jain community is concerned.”