The Supreme Court (SC) on Friday, October 4, suggested those seeking permission for re-construction of Guru Ravidas temple in Delhi’s Tughlaqabad forest area to amicably find a better location for the temple which was demolished on its order by the Delhi Development Authority in August.
The temple was demolished by the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) citing the top court's direction. The demolition had led to a series of massive protests across the country, including Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Punjab and Haryana.
The apex court asked the parties in the matter to hold a consultation to arrive at an amicable solution on a "better land" and "better location" and said if they are agreeable, then it would pass an order.
"You find an amicable solution and come back to us. Any day we can pass the order. We respect the sentiments of everybody on Earth but we have to follow the law," the bench of justices consisting of Arun Mishra and S Ravindra Bhat said and posted the matter for further hearing on October 18 along with the pending petition on the issue, as reported by PTI.
"The attorney general is also appearing in the (pending) matter. Let us see what best we can do," the bench said.
Also read: Ravidas Temple Demolition: Tension Simmers in Delhi, UP After Wednesday’s Violence
Commenting over the recent judgement, Sant Sukhdev Waghmare, a religious leader and a member of the dalit community told NewsClick, "Mandir wahin banega, kahin dusre jagah nahi banega (The temple will be built there, not anywhere else). The court's order is not that the temple must be built at another place but they have asked both petitioners to sit down and sort out the issue peacefully. Furthermore, if the Supreme Court is suggesting for an amicable place then we will not accept any other place than Tughlaqabad forest area. Our faith is associated with the old place and we have been praying there since many decades. The nostalgia that Ravidas temple had harboured for years has now been reduced to rubble. There are several mausoleums of dalit icons there, then why will we leave suddenly? In fact, DDA demolished the mausoleum and temple without taking our opinion, which is highly condemnable.”
On being asked about the offer of another land by the SC, he added, "The same place is important for the whole community and if they will give any better land, we will never accept it, no matter how much struggle we face. Our struggle to make the temple at the same site will continue until our demands are met. This government (Modi) was never generous towards the dalit community and if they were, then they would have never let anyone demolish a hundreds of years old temple. But now we are aware and know how to claim our rights. If talking does not solve the issue, then a massive protest will be organised across the country and the government will be responsible."
He further said, “The government has been arresting young dalit leaders and activists from metro stations and their homes blaming them for violence during the protest in Delhi. This is serious injustice and we won’t tolerate this any further.”
Another dalit activist said that the BJP government with the help of DDA demolished the temple as they are eyeing the land for financial benefits.
On August 10, the DDA had demolished the centuries-old Guru Ravidas temple in Delhi's Tughlaqabad following a Supreme Court order. The DDA claims that the temple and its campus were built on illegal land. According to documents submitted before the court, the Ravidas temple complex is spread across 12,350 square yards and has 20 rooms and one hall on its premises. Following th demolition, 96 dalit activists were arrested, including Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad by Delhi Police for participating in a protest against the demolition in Delhi.
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Bhim Army Saharanpur district in-charge Praveen Gautam told NewsClick, "The Ravidas Temple will be built at the same site at any cost and for that, we can go to any extent because we have faith in the temple and the place. This judgment to make the temple at another place is not given by the Supreme Court but RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh). If the Modi government and RSS have said that the Ram temple cannot be built anywhere but in Ayodhya, why should the followers of Ravidas allow their 500-year-old temple to be relocated as proposed by authorities?"
Gautam further added that the faith of Hindus is faith but the faith of dalit is not a concern for this government.