May 26, 2024

MOON Desk: In an attempt to ‘purify’ a temple a day after a Muslim legislator of the Samajwadi Party visited the shrine, members of some Hindu outfits and civic officials sprinkled water from River Ganga (believed to be holy) on it. Saiyada Khatoon, the legislator from Domariaganj, said she was invited by the administration of the Samya Mata Temple in Siddharthnagar district to attend an event in Balwa village.

However, after the Ram Katha event, the chairman of the local panchayat along with members of Hindu organisations visited the temple on Monday, sprinkled water from Ganga, recited the Hanuman Chalisa, and shouted slogans against the SP leader, media reports reaching here said on Tuesday.  Dharmaraj Verma, chairman of the Barhni Chafa Nagar panchayat said Samya Mata Mandir is a centre of faith for devotees. “People throng the temple with dedication. The MLA is non-vegetarian and her visit affected the sanctity of the place.” Verma added that he had sprinkled Ganga water to ‘purify’ the site.

Domariaganj circle officer Sujit Kumar Rai said the police have taken note of the matter. A team was patrolling the area to avoid chances of a confrontation; he said adding that they have not received any complaint in connection with the incident yet. “We will take appropriate action if a complaint is filed in this regard,” he said. Rai also informed that local villagers had constituted an organising committee for the Ram Katha, headed by Shrikant Shukla, secretary of the committee, and Pujari Prasad, head priest of the temple, and had invited the Samajwadi legislator.

“We are inquiring into the incident and keeping a close eye on the development,” Siddharthnagar Superintendent of Police, Abhishek Kumar Agarwal, was quoted as saying. Khatoon said some elements were misleading a group of people. “I respect all religions. Moreover, I am a public representative. Be it a temple or a mosque, I will surely go there if I am invited.” Renovation of various temples was funded by her MLA local area development fund, she added.

This isn’t the first time that such an incident has happened at a temple in Uttar Pradesh. In 2018, a temple in Hamirpur district was purified with Ganga water after a Dalit woman lawmaker from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) entered the shrine. A controversy also broke out in neighbouring Bihar last year after a Muslim minister entered the Vishnupad temple along with Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, prompting the temple staff to “purify” the premises.

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