A five-decade-old shrine located around 40 km from Narmadapuram (Hoshangabad) district headquarters on state highway-22 was reportedly vandalized and painted saffron by unidentified men in the wee hours of Sunday.
According to the police, the incident came to light around 6 am when a few local youths spotted the shrine coated with saffron paint and found its door had been broken open.
Shrine caretaker Abdul Sattar said around 6 am that a few local youths from the village informed him that the shrine was coated in saffron paint. Speaking to The Indian Express, Sattar said: “After reaching, we realized that the wooden doors of the shrine were broken open and dumped in Maru river. The minaret, tomb, and entrance were coated in saffron paint. Furthermore, the hand pump inside the shrine compound was also uprooted.”
As per villagers, the police swung into action only after they blocked the state highway-22 as their previous complaint had gone unheard. They lifted the “chakka jam” after a team of the police and the district administration from the nearby town of Makhan Nagar, Semria reached the spot and assured action.
An FIR was registered under Section 295 (A) (for deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs) of the IPC.
Amid tension in the town, the police were deployed, and repainting of the shrine was being undertaken. Two fire brigade vehicles were also pressed into service to help villagers restore the shrine.
Hemant Shrivastav, Town Inspector of Makhan Nagar police station, said: “We have registered an FIR, but our priority is to restore the shrine first, which is being done. After this, the accused will also be arrested. But prima facia, it does not look like the act is done by local youths as people of both communities live here peacefully, and there has been no communal tension in the past.”