On Thursday, the Assam police nabbed one Rafiqul Ali for desecrating a Satra (Vaishnav Monastery) in Ganak Kuchi village in Barpeta district of Assam. The accused is a resident of Shantipur in the Bhella area of the Barpeta town.
As per reports, Ali had set the Guru Ashan and a copy of the Hindu Holy book Bhagavad Gita placed in the Mutt of the Shri Ram Ata’s Bhithi inside the premises of the Ganak Kuchi Satra on fire. The accused had also ransacked the prayer room in the Satra. Following the incident, an atmosphere of tension has gripped the area. At the time of the incident, none was present within the Satra premises.
According to reports, at around 2 PM on Thursday, when there was nobody around the Satra, Rafiqul entered the Satra premises, which was established by Shri Madhavdev in the 16th century, the main disciple of Shrimanta Sankardev. He went to the Mutt of Shri Ram Ata’s Bhithi located towards the north of the main Satra building, vandalised it, brought the Guru Ashan and other items from the Mutt out and touched them on yard in the Satra premises. He also threw away the Prashad kept in the Mutt.
On seeing flames and smoke rising from the Satra premises, locals rushed to the spot and nabbed the accused. He was then handed over to the police. The locals then tried to extinguish the fire that engulfed the sacred Ashan.
Senior police officials from Barpeta visited the Satra after the incident. The Ganak Kuchi Satra Committee has filed a formal complaint with the police regarding the matter.
The Guru Ashan is a seven-tiered wooden throne that represents the Ashan or seat of the Guru, and it is kept in the Manikut of a Satra, which can be compared with Sanctum Sanctorum of temples. As idolatry was denounced by Srimanta Sankardev, idols are not worshipped in Vaishnava Satras and Naamghars in Assam.
Rafiqul Ali vandalised Goddess Lakshmi temple last year
This is not the first time that the accused has been involved in acts of religious desecration. Last year, the idol of Goddess Lakshmi at the historical temple in the Keotkuchi area in Barpeta was damaged by Rafiqul Ali in the early morning on 9th October. He had also looted the temple and damaged the floor tiles and other items kept at the temple. Rafiqul also tore banners and posters, and damaged decorations, which were put up at the temple for the Lakshmi Puja.
After vandalising the temple, Ali had proceeded to torch various items of the temple, along with cloths of the Lakshmi idol. Seeing fire coming out of the temple, locals arrived at the scene and caught the perpetrator red-handed, who was hiding in a corner of the temple. The local people had handed over the man to the police, who surprisingly remained in the temple after vandalising and looting it, instead of attempting to flee.