A few days ago, an unwarranted controversy erupted after a video of a man thrashing a Muslim boy for allegedly drinking water at the Dasna temple in Ghaziabad had gone viral on the internet. Shortly after the video surfaced on the internet, left-leaning liberals made a beeline to paint the incident as a hate crime against Muslims by Hindus. A hashtag #SorryAsif was run on social media websites to express support for the boy without even bothering to check the context behind the incident.
As it turned out, the boy was beaten because he had reportedly urinated on a Shivling and had behaved indecently in front of women inside the temple. However, in their rush to paint the Hindus as aggressors, the left-leaning liberals stoked the controversy and shared the video without caring to go to the bottom of the incident. As the controversy swelled and the priests of the temple in question were interviewed, it came to the fore that there have been many incidents in the past when people belonging to different faith were caught harassing Hindu woman in the temple premises, stealing valuables from the temple and desecrating the temple and the idols.
Dismissing the charges that Asif was beaten for drinking water, the Head Priest (Mahant) Yati Narasinhanand Saraswati said that the temple was also robbed at least 4 times in the past. He emphasised that incidents of theft, assault and sexual harassment of female devotees went on to such an extent that the temple management was forced to bar the entry of Muslims in the temple premises.
Another priest contended that men from the other community in the region enter temple premises during day hours for recce purposes and later in the night carry out robberies. He cited 4 instances of dacoities when valuables from the temple were stolen.
Here are a couple of incidents of theft that had taken place at the Dasna temple in the last few years:
Thousands of rupees, three mobile phones robbed by thieves in Dasna Temple
In 2014, 7-8 dacoits sneaked into the temple compound in the dead of the night and looted thousands of rupees in cash, along with three mobile phones. The temple priests tried to stop the miscreants but to no avail. The dacoits were moving towards other buildings in the temple compound when the security guards opened fire at them. Spooked by the bullet fire, the dacoits fled the temple compound.
At twelve o’clock at night, the miscreants had entered inside the compound from the wall behind the ancient Devi temple. Everyone’s face was covered with a cloth. They were armed with guns, knives and axes. They barged into a room on the first floor of the building where a priest and a serviceman were sleeping and robbed them of Rs 3000 and two mobile phones.
The crooks then to the ground floor when they countered a priest named Hari Giri. They looted Rs 1100 and a mobile phone from him. They asked him to provide information about where the Mahant stayed. However, when he refused, the miscreants placed an axe on his neck and threatened to kill him. Giri screamed following which the security guard of the temple premises reached there.
When the security guards found about the thieves, they opened fire at them. The miscreants, on the other hand, retaliated by firing shots at the security guards. Shortly thereafter, the security guards intensified their firing. The crooks, scared by the intensity of the firing, fled from the back.
Thief escapes with deity’s crown from Dasna temple
In February 2017, another theft took place at the Dasna Temple. An unidentified thief took away the crown of the deity of the Dasna Devi Temple. According to the police, the thief also took away cash from the donation box.
The temple caretakers claimed that they had closed the doors of the temple sanctum after Shivratri celebrations around 10pm on Friday and retired to their rooms inside the temple complex.
“A thief, aged around 30, can be seen in the CCTV footage breaking the donation box. He stayed inside the main temple complex for more than 30 minutes. All his activities and face have been caught on camera,” said Mahant Narshinhanand Saraswati, temple’s caretaker.
The CCTV cameras installed in the temple captured the robbery. In the CCTV footage, a man could be seen walking up to the deity and taking off the crown, made up of silver and believed to be 50 years old. The thief then took out a hammer and jimmied open the donation box.