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Tukeshwar Lodhi, Raipur. Arang is called the city of temples in Chhattisgarh. Due to the ancient and rare statues and historical heritage found in Arang, the capital of King Mordhwaj, the identity of Arang is spread in the country. But for the last few days, something like this has been happening in Arang Nagar which has neither been seen nor heard of anywhere till now.

In fact, two years ago in September 2021, during the deepening of Andhiyar Khop pond of Arang, a statue resembling an ancient and rare Jain Tirthankara was found. Which has been preserved in Bhanddeval temple by the Archaeological Survey of India. Recently, the Jain community of Dongargarh had demanded the administration to take away this idol, on which the then Collector of Raipur Sarveshwar Bhure issued an order to hand over the idol to the Jain community of Dongargarh. But after the local people of Arang became aware of the order, the Collector’s order is being opposed.

Local residents of Arang allege that the ancient and rare idol found in the pond is being given to the Jain Trust of Rajnandgaon outside Arang due to administrative pressure. Many social organizations have also written letters to the concerned department opposing this order. People say that Arang is recognized because of the ancient statues, remains and historical heritage here. If this ancient idol goes away from here, then any society will demand the same and take away many idols from here. It is unfair to take away cultural heritage without the consent of the citizens.

Know what historians say

Experts in history say that citing the provisions of the Nikhat Nidhi Act 1878, the Collector has issued an order to give this ancient idol to the Jain community for worship, whereas this Act does not provide any power to the Collector due to which They should give the archaeological heritage of the country to any person or society for worship. It is also wrong to transport heritage sites of archaeological importance. Local officials are avoiding saying anything on this matter. As far as possible, idols or objects of archaeological importance are kept at the same place from where they are found or in the nearest archaeological department’s museum for safety and conservation, but this is not happening in the case of Arang.

It is noteworthy that earlier also many ancient statues kept in Arang police station have been taken elsewhere, about which there is no confirmed information till date. If this sequence continues, question marks will be raised on the historicity of Arang itself. The residents of the city demand that the government should cancel the erroneous order of the Raipur Collector and take necessary steps to protect the heritage of Arang and build a museum in Arang itself.

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