The idol, which was removed from the Purana Shiv Mandir in Shahpur Jat on March 25, was replaced by a Ganesh idol.

A temple committee member, identified as 50-year-old Padam Panwar, was arrested on Tuesday for allegedly “dislodging” a Sai Baba idol from a temple in South Delhi’s Shahpur Jat in the last week of March. The Delhi Police had registered an FIR against ‘unknown persons’ in this regard. The FIR was filed under IPC Section 295-A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs) at Hauz Khas police station, but no arrest has been made so far.

The idol, which was removed from the Purana Shiv Mandir in Shahpur Jat on March 25, was replaced by a Ganesh idol. While the temple committee members had said the idol was removed because it was old, a video later surfaced that purportedly showed workers trying to take the idol down, with Padam Panwar pointing to the idol and saying: “He was no God, he died in 1918, he was a Muslim…”

When contacted by The Indian Express, Panwar had claimed, “The idol was taken down because it was old. It is a tradition in the Hindu religion to take down idols when they become old. The temple is being reconstructed. Once the new half of the temple is ready, we will have a meeting and take a call on whether a new Sai Baba idol will be set up or not.” Regarding his comment in the video, he said, “I did not say anything of that sort. If there is any video, it is fake…”

The FIR was registered after nine Sai Baba devotees from across the city approached police. Their complaint filed on March 31 and addressed to the SHO, Hauz Khas, reads, “A few people came in and broke the idol of Shri Sai Baba while saying the idol should be removed as he is not a Hindu god but belongs to Muslims. We request you to kindly take action against the culprits who conducted this heinous crime as this hurts the sentiments of people who believe in Sai Baba. We request you to ensure the restoration of Baba’s idol in the same temple premises as soon as possible.”

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