Muslims raise money for installing goddess idol

About 50 Muslims in Barnal town, some 300 km from Lucknow, are collecting money for the idol at the temple dedicated to Ma Sheetla Devi, believde to be an incarnation of goddess Durga, situated in the Katra area.

The initiative by members of the minority community comes after the four-foot idol of the goddess was broken Tuesday by a goat, owned by a Muslim of the area, as it entered the temple while grazing in the nearby fields.

"We think it's the responsibility of the minority community to get the new idol installed in the temple as it was broken after a goat owned by a Muslim entered the temple," Anis Ansari, 35, a resident of Barnal, told IANS on telephone from Mainpuri.

"As soon as we came to know about the incident, Muslims in the town held a meeting and unanimously decided to raise funds for installing the new idol in the temple," added Ansari, who owns a cement shop in the town.

Some elements had tried to give a communal colour to the incident, police said.

"Following the incident, some people tried to create tension in the area, but they could not succeed as Muslims in the area defused a potentially violent situation by announcing that they would install the new idol at the temple," police inspector Guru Mukh Singh told IANS on telephone.

According to locals, around Rs.5,000-7,000 would be required for  the new idol at the temple.

"We are visiting door to door for collecting the money...We have not fixed any amount for the donors...We have left it to them...With the type of response we are receiving from the locals, we expect we would be able to collect the required amount in the next 10-15 days," said Rinku Saifi, who owns a tailoring shop in the town.

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