Afzalpur village in Mandsaur district wants to rename itself as Suryanagar after an idol of the sun god was found in a farmer’s field there three years ago. The residents have turned down the state archaeological department’s request to hand over the idol, dating back to the 11th or 12th century.
The five-foot idol was found from the field of one Badrilal Dangi on May 21, 2014. A resolution passed by the Afzalpur gram panchayat to this effect has the backing of the Hindu Mahasabha and local BJP leaders, including MP Sudhir Gupta and MLA Jagdish Devda, the latter a former minister.
At its next meeting, the Mandsaur district panchayat will take up the proposal for renaming. A joint district collector recently told the chief executive officer of the district panchayat that no one objected to the renaming proposal when objections were invited.
“We protested for months and did not allow the archaeological department to take the idol. We want a big temple to be built. Even the few Muslim families who reside in the village have agreed to the renaming and the temple, saying they will also benefit from the prosperity it will bring,’’ Mandsaur district chief of Hindu Mahasabha Vinay Dubela said.
Assistant curator of Yashodharman Archaeology Museum in Mandsaur Jagdish Sharma said the villagers have so far refused to hand over the idol. He said the idol dates back to the rule of the Parmara dynasty in the region, and the archaeology department wants to shift it to the local museum.
“We have unanimously decided to recommend that Afzalpur should be renamed Suryanagar because the idol of Bhagwan Surya Dev was found. Residents of Afzalpur and nearby villages have deep reverence for the deity. In the normal discourse, villagers use the name Suryanagar instead of Afzalpur but the name has to be changed in official records,’’ read the resolution passed in the gram sabha.
Dubela said Swami Ramdayal of Ram Snnehi Sampraday had agreed to build the proposed temple for Rs 10 crore and the money would be raised through donations. An individual has agreed to donate some of his land.
In its report, the Afzalpur Police Station said the proposed land was free from any dispute and safe.
Mandsaur district panchayat president Priyanka Goswami said the renaming proposal would be moved by the chief executive officer in the next meeting.