Thousands of Jain devotees have moved a statue from an ancient temple in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, despite police efforts to stop them.
The site remains tense, with the Jain community refusing police access to the site although crowds are dispersing. The state’s High Court has ordered officials to ascertain how and when the 1,000-year-old statue was transferred.The Archaeological Survey of India had earlier said moving the statue of Lord Adinath would be illegal and harmful.
Jainism is an ancient Indian religion that believes that liberation and bliss is in living a life of harmlessness and renunciation The state High Court ruled that the statue of Lord Adinath, first Jain prophet, should remain wherever it was at 1630 local time on Tuesday.
The ASI alleges the statue was in place at Kundalpur at the specified time, but devotees claim it had been moved by midday. More than 15,000 devotees had formed a human chain near the temple, most of which is located at a hill top, and kept hundreds of security forces at bay.
The ASI says the state government failed to protect the monument. It accuses Jain devotees of shifting ancient statues and monuments from the central government’s protected complex to newly constructed temples for the last 10 years. According to ASI, the Lord Adinath statue had already developed 19 cracks and was severely damaged due to illegal mining and excavation in the Kundalpur area for the last 10 years.