daring fidayeen attack on historic Raghunath temple in Jammu that was waiting
Main temple doors had to be shut for the
second time in past 150 years...
Tear well up in his eyes, words fail him and he looks at the
blood splattered all over the historic Raghunath temple complex .It is
a gory site in the temple today. The Complex which normally has fragrance
from the incense sticks filling in the air and flowers beautifying the
entire complex, is stinking badly as the foul smell of the blood that was
splattered all over the temple two days ago, refuses to go.
Pandit Vishal Shastri, the Adhistdata (head priest) of historic Raghunath
temple who has been working in the temple for the past so many years had
never thought that he would have to witness another 'black day' yet again
in his life .Not because so many innocent lives were lost but also because
for the second time in the 150-year old history of Raghunath temple, they
had to close the doors of main temple of Lord Raghunath for the pilgrims
and common public.
Though the temple complex witnessed lot of rush today also like any
other day but most of it comprised of the police and paramilitary
forces, irate mob and the journalists hunting for their news stories.
Known as the "City of Temples" all over the country, Jammu has tens
and thousands of temples but the best known is the Raghunath Temple which
gives its name to the surrounding temple complex of 30 temples. As it consists
of a cluster of temples which makes it the largest complex in the whole
of the Northern India, Raghunath Temple is a famous landmark of Jammu city.
Standing in the heart of Jammu city with all its majesty and grandeur,
the 150-year old historic temple of Lord Raghunath ji,popularly known Raghunath
Mandir attracts pilgrims from all over the country throughout the
Work on the temple was started by Maharaja Gulab Singh, founder of the
kingdom of Jammu and Kashmir in 1835 A.D and was completed by his
son Maharaja Ranbir Singh in 1860 A.D.The complex is the most splendid
as there is hardly any deity which is not represented in the temple complex.
The inner sanctums of the temples contain gigantic statues of gods and
goddesses and numerous lingams. It contains representatives of almost the
entire Hindu Pantheon, which makes it a rare sight to see.
The busy market of Jammu, Raghunath Bazar is also named after this temple
complex while this temple is named after Lord Rama as he is the main deity
of the temple. Besides, the Dogra dynasty is also believed to be the descendent
of Lord Rama The Raghunath majestic temple had been under the threat
of militants since the extension of arc of militancy to Jammu region. Umpteen
times, threats had been given and messages intercepted by various security
agencies to blow up the temple. Besides, several attempts had already been
made by the anti-national elements to target the busy market of Jammu,
Raghunath Bazar which is also named after this temple complex. However,
it was perhaps sheer luck that prevented the militants to target this temple
until eight months ago on 30 March when in one of the most daring fidayeen
attacks in Jammu city, the terrorists executed first fidayeen attack on
the historic Raghunath temple gunning down nine including three security
personnel and injured 20 others. This time again, on Sunday evening, another
fidayeen attack took place on the temple bringing it to international headlines
On both the two occasions, chaos and confusion reigned supreme in and
around the holy complex as fierce gun battles went on for hours with no
one having any idea about the number of terrorists holed up inside the
temple. Deafening explosions and exchange of fire appeared to have transformed
the sprawling complex and the busy market around into a virtual battle
ground. The chimes of temple bells was replaced by gun-shots. The flowers
on the foot of Lord Ram everyday were soaked with blood. And an errie silence
prevailed inside the temple.
The second dare devil fidayeen attack by the fidayeen squad in the high
security zone of Raghunath Square area, just few yards away from chief
minister Mufti Sayeed’s official residence and less than a kilometre from
the district police headquarters and IGP’s office left 14 people dead including
the two fidayeen and over 55 injured. Thakur Diwakar Singh, president of
Dharmarth Trust said that there were at least 400 devotees inside the temple
as it was Aarti time. On an average day, the temple is thronged by 200-2500
pilgrims. Initially, police and para-military personnel, assisted by local
people, evicted over 75 devotees from the temple premises. Another 100
pilgrims fled to safety by using back side of the temple to reach Hari
A couple of years ago, the terrorists had exploded an IED just outside
a bakery shop, situated a few metres from Raghunath Temple which had left
many injured. However, there was no major causality. This explosion had
taken place in the night. Prior to this, a grenade had been lobbed in main
Raghunath Bazar. But for all these incidents which should have served as
eye opener for various security agencies entrusted with the task of securing
such important places, nothing of the sort happened.
For the 125 employees of the temple which is managed by Dharmarth Trust,
a religious body that manages the affairs of the temple and was founded
by Dogra ruler Maharaja Ghulab Singh in 1896, though there have been great
security threats to the historic temple,they had never though it would
Pandit Shastri informed The Statesman that the police had the inputs
regarding the possibility of a fidayeen attack on this historic temple.
Elaborating about the security arrangements made in the temple which is
managed by Dharmarth Trust (Dr Karan Singh is the sole trustee of the Trust),
he said they had adopted security measures like metal detectors but
they were provided with only one santry who has to frisk thousands of people.
He said that the government could have made proper security arrangements
besides setting up nakas in view of the security threats to this temple.
The Dharmarth Trust has 13 sentries and 112 employees to manage the
temple. Most of them are ex-servicemen who have adequate training as how
to use weapons and how to counter such type of situation but they were
never provided weapons by the police.
The defence sources also said that they had already such inputs on any
possible attacks against the religious places in J&K. A top security
official on conditions of anonymity told this correspondent that the issue
of militants increasingly taking shelter in places of religious importance
like shrines and mosques in Kashmir and desecration or damaging of temples
in Poonch, Rajouri area of Jammu had been discussed in various security
meetings. But nothing was done by the state police to beef the security
or to avoid the attacks. Even Raghunath temple was always considered a
soft spot for fidayeen attack,he confirmed adding that in view a spurt
in the incidents in which the militants have increasingly been taking shelters
in mosques and religious places in Kashmir,they were trying to maintain
vigil around religious places in the state on their own.
"This was also done in view of the inputs that the ISI was planning
to attack and misuse the religious places to engineer communal tensions,"
he said adding that during the past year, the terrorists have taken refuge
in mosques thus creating a difficult situation for the security forces.
On all the occasions, the forces have maintained their cool and the mosque
is not destroyed in the cross fire. He also did not rule out the possibility
of such attack on Mata Vaishno Devi shrine which is also under heavy security
threats. A few months ago, five militants were killed by the security forces
near Katra who were planning to a target the shrine.
What pains the Dharmarth Trust president, priests and the local people
is the fact that not only the temple complex has suffered extensive damages
in this second fidayeen attack but also inside the temple, 200-year old
two large granite idols of Lord Hanuman and Maharishi Valmiki—the author
of Ramayana—have been badly damaged after being hit by a volley of gun
Dr Karan Singh, Dharmarth Trust’s sole trustee, his son Ajatshatru Singh
and Thakur Diwakar Singh have termed it a security failure. Singh
alleged that there were no proper security arrangements but the SSP Jammu
Mr Farooq Khan said that the suggestions put forth before the Dharmarth
by them after the first fidayeen attack,were not implemented.
"We had asked them to get a big iron gate installed as the second line
of defence and frisking but that was never implemented," he added. However
Singh countered by saying that the security personnel who were deployed
for the security of the temple complex were not even properly equipped
with sophisticated weaponry. He said if the state police and other security
agencies could not secure the temple, they could train their own priests
for the security.
"We can have our own security and also think about equipping our priests
with weapons. This is really unfortunate that the priests who generally
take care of their gods, would have to secure their gods by carrying weapons.
But why not? If surrendered militants can be given weapons, why not our
priests for the well being of their gods and devotees," asked Mr Ajatshatru
Singh, former minister and son of Dr Karan Singh.
After these two fidayeen attacks at the temple, Dharmarth Trust which
manages at least 78 important temples in the state including the Shankaracharya
temple and Kheer Bhawani in Kashmir, has asked the Union Minister of State
for Home Mr I.D.Swami to make adequate arrangement for the security of
these temples too.
"We have apprehensions about the security of these temples now and Mr
Swami wants us to give a memorandum in this regards," informed Mr Singh.