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Sai Baba devotees file police complaint, after idol removed from S Delhi temple

Videos of Idol removal go viral, the sage was called Muslim, labed ‘‘jihadi’, Hindutva hardliners continue to fuel communal fires 

Sabrangindia 05 Apr 2021

saibabaScreenshots from videos circulating on social media.
 

Sai Baba of Shirdi holds a special place in the hearts of devotees in the national capital, who were shocked as news of the alleged attack on his idol ‘dislodged’ at a temple in Shahpur Jat in South Delhi. A group of   Sai Baba devotees have filed a police complaint, reported Indian Express. The DCP South, Atul Kumar Thakur, confirmed this and told the media that :“A few Sai Baba devotees from across the city filed a complaint stating that their sentiments have been hurt by the removal. We are looking into the matter.” Media reports quote from the complaint filed on March 31: “A few people came in and broke the idol of Shri Sai Baba while saying the idol should be removed as he is not a Hindu god but belongs to Muslims. We request you to kindly take action against the culprits who conducted this heinous crime as this hurts the sentiments of people who believe in Sai Baba. We request you to ensure the restoration of Baba’s idol in the same temple premises as soon as possible.”

The Sai Baba idol was allegedly removed from the Purana Shiv Mandir in Shahpur Jat area on March 25. According to multiple news reports, it  has been replaced with a Ganesh idol. Members of temple committee, however, told the media that the Sai Baba the idol was “taken down because it was old”, soon after a video that purportedly showed people trying to take the idol down, even as a man who seemed to be directing the ‘removal’ pointed to the idol and said: “He was no God, he died in 1918, he was a Muslim…”

According to media reports, that man was identified by the locals as temple committee member, Padam Panwar. Panwar told the IE that: “the idol was taken down because it was old. It is a tradition in the Hindu religion to take down idols when they become old. The temple is being reconstructed. Once the new half of the temple is ready, we will have a meeting and take a call on whether a new Sai Baba idol will be set up or not.” He also claimed innocence on his comment that Saibab was a Muslim, “I did not say anything of that sort. If there is any video, it is fake…”

Bharat Panwar, another temple committee member, added that: “The Sai Baba idol was placed here in 2009… For now, a Ganesh idol has been set up and the Sai Baba idol has been removed… All decisions by the temple committee are taken bearing the residents’ wishes in mind and no resident had any complaint.”

However, as an investigation by the Scroll revealed, the man who has been seen in the video ‘directing’ the removal of the Idol,  was seen in another video where he is seated next to Yati Narsinghanand Saraswati. Hindutva leader Yati Narsinghanand Saraswati is well known for his hate speech against Muslims in particular. He is regularly in the news for his hate speeches. He has so far managed to escape any legal actions. 

 Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) had even approached the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) and National Commission for Minorities with a complaint against the assault on a minor boy Asif, for entering a temple to drink water by Hindutva leader Yati Narsinghanand Saraswati’s disciple and the subsequent justification of the hate crime.  CJP’s complaint dated March 18, 2021, has described the horrific incident of one Shringi Nandan Yadav who voluntarily kicked and hurt the minor Muslim boy for entering the Dasna Devi temple in Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh and his aide who recorded the video. Soon after the video went viral on social media, Ghaziabad Police took cognisance of it and arrested Yadav and also named the person shooting the video as a co-accused. CJP, through the complaint, also apprised the Commissions about its recent complaint dated March 10 against Yati’s Islamophobic and provocative speeches that openly instigate Hindus to ‘fight’ and ‘sacrifice’ for India before it becomes an ‘Islamic Nation’. The complaint targets this widespread anti minority sentiment and states, “Targeting the Muslim community with an overbearing majoritarian attitude leads to a hostile and discriminatory environment that is against the secular ideals of India. Hate on social media, and such videos that can be accessed from any part of the country at any time helps mobilise force(s) that can result in a mass, targeted violent attacks, eventually and sometimes even culminating in genocide.”

Now  Saraswati is seen in the new video was reportedly congratulating and blessing the man for “breaking and throwing away” the idol of “pakhandi Sai” (fraudster Sai), and saying: “If I had my way, jihadis like Sai won’t be able to enter temples.” Even though Padam Panwar reportedly tried to distance himself from the case, Saraswati told the reporter that: “Sai Baba was a pindari lootera (lawless raider). His name was Chand Khan. He was a jihadi. It is the madness of our Hindus that he is now in our temples.” Pawar, the man in the middle of the controversy claimed he “did not know much about Saraswati” and was “introduced to him by a friend on the evening of March 25.”

According to the Scroll, one Jitender Panwar, who was also seen in the video instructing the workers removing the idol, had shared a message on the Shahpur Jat society’s WhatsApp group on March 27 claimed that the popularity of Sai Baba “also known as Chand Miyan” was a “conspiracy economically supported by the Islamic world”.  

This is just the latest in the Hindutva brigade’s attacks on the legacy of Sai Baba who is revered as a saint by Hindus and Muslims alike. Sai Baba propagated a religion of love and encouraged celebrations of all festivals akin to both religions. In political terms, he can be regarded as a secular saint, venerated as an incarnation of god by Hindus as well as Muslims as in his eyes all were equal and he propagated “Sabka Malik Ek” (God is one). 

 

Related

Freedom of Religion and Christian minorities in India

Bigot on Facebook attacks Sai Baba imagery

Delhi violence accused thrashes Muslim man, forces him to chant anti Pakistan slogans

Sai Baba devotees file police complaint, after idol removed from S Delhi temple

Videos of Idol removal go viral, the sage was called Muslim, labed ‘‘jihadi’, Hindutva hardliners continue to fuel communal fires 

saibabaScreenshots from videos circulating on social media.
 

Sai Baba of Shirdi holds a special place in the hearts of devotees in the national capital, who were shocked as news of the alleged attack on his idol ‘dislodged’ at a temple in Shahpur Jat in South Delhi. A group of   Sai Baba devotees have filed a police complaint, reported Indian Express. The DCP South, Atul Kumar Thakur, confirmed this and told the media that :“A few Sai Baba devotees from across the city filed a complaint stating that their sentiments have been hurt by the removal. We are looking into the matter.” Media reports quote from the complaint filed on March 31: “A few people came in and broke the idol of Shri Sai Baba while saying the idol should be removed as he is not a Hindu god but belongs to Muslims. We request you to kindly take action against the culprits who conducted this heinous crime as this hurts the sentiments of people who believe in Sai Baba. We request you to ensure the restoration of Baba’s idol in the same temple premises as soon as possible.”

The Sai Baba idol was allegedly removed from the Purana Shiv Mandir in Shahpur Jat area on March 25. According to multiple news reports, it  has been replaced with a Ganesh idol. Members of temple committee, however, told the media that the Sai Baba the idol was “taken down because it was old”, soon after a video that purportedly showed people trying to take the idol down, even as a man who seemed to be directing the ‘removal’ pointed to the idol and said: “He was no God, he died in 1918, he was a Muslim…”

According to media reports, that man was identified by the locals as temple committee member, Padam Panwar. Panwar told the IE that: “the idol was taken down because it was old. It is a tradition in the Hindu religion to take down idols when they become old. The temple is being reconstructed. Once the new half of the temple is ready, we will have a meeting and take a call on whether a new Sai Baba idol will be set up or not.” He also claimed innocence on his comment that Saibab was a Muslim, “I did not say anything of that sort. If there is any video, it is fake…”

Bharat Panwar, another temple committee member, added that: “The Sai Baba idol was placed here in 2009… For now, a Ganesh idol has been set up and the Sai Baba idol has been removed… All decisions by the temple committee are taken bearing the residents’ wishes in mind and no resident had any complaint.”

However, as an investigation by the Scroll revealed, the man who has been seen in the video ‘directing’ the removal of the Idol,  was seen in another video where he is seated next to Yati Narsinghanand Saraswati. Hindutva leader Yati Narsinghanand Saraswati is well known for his hate speech against Muslims in particular. He is regularly in the news for his hate speeches. He has so far managed to escape any legal actions. 

 Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) had even approached the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) and National Commission for Minorities with a complaint against the assault on a minor boy Asif, for entering a temple to drink water by Hindutva leader Yati Narsinghanand Saraswati’s disciple and the subsequent justification of the hate crime.  CJP’s complaint dated March 18, 2021, has described the horrific incident of one Shringi Nandan Yadav who voluntarily kicked and hurt the minor Muslim boy for entering the Dasna Devi temple in Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh and his aide who recorded the video. Soon after the video went viral on social media, Ghaziabad Police took cognisance of it and arrested Yadav and also named the person shooting the video as a co-accused. CJP, through the complaint, also apprised the Commissions about its recent complaint dated March 10 against Yati’s Islamophobic and provocative speeches that openly instigate Hindus to ‘fight’ and ‘sacrifice’ for India before it becomes an ‘Islamic Nation’. The complaint targets this widespread anti minority sentiment and states, “Targeting the Muslim community with an overbearing majoritarian attitude leads to a hostile and discriminatory environment that is against the secular ideals of India. Hate on social media, and such videos that can be accessed from any part of the country at any time helps mobilise force(s) that can result in a mass, targeted violent attacks, eventually and sometimes even culminating in genocide.”

Now  Saraswati is seen in the new video was reportedly congratulating and blessing the man for “breaking and throwing away” the idol of “pakhandi Sai” (fraudster Sai), and saying: “If I had my way, jihadis like Sai won’t be able to enter temples.” Even though Padam Panwar reportedly tried to distance himself from the case, Saraswati told the reporter that: “Sai Baba was a pindari lootera (lawless raider). His name was Chand Khan. He was a jihadi. It is the madness of our Hindus that he is now in our temples.” Pawar, the man in the middle of the controversy claimed he “did not know much about Saraswati” and was “introduced to him by a friend on the evening of March 25.”

According to the Scroll, one Jitender Panwar, who was also seen in the video instructing the workers removing the idol, had shared a message on the Shahpur Jat society’s WhatsApp group on March 27 claimed that the popularity of Sai Baba “also known as Chand Miyan” was a “conspiracy economically supported by the Islamic world”.  

This is just the latest in the Hindutva brigade’s attacks on the legacy of Sai Baba who is revered as a saint by Hindus and Muslims alike. Sai Baba propagated a religion of love and encouraged celebrations of all festivals akin to both religions. In political terms, he can be regarded as a secular saint, venerated as an incarnation of god by Hindus as well as Muslims as in his eyes all were equal and he propagated “Sabka Malik Ek” (God is one). 

 

Related

Freedom of Religion and Christian minorities in India

Bigot on Facebook attacks Sai Baba imagery

Delhi violence accused thrashes Muslim man, forces him to chant anti Pakistan slogans

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