The AAP Monday waded into a row over the Supreme Court-directed demolition of Tughlaqabad’s Ravidas temple, which has sparked protests by members of the Dalit community in various parts of Punjab.
On August 9, the Supreme Court had ordered demolition of the temple, directing the Delhi Development Authority and Delhi Police to file a compliance report on August 13. The DDA had secured a demolition order from the court, pleading that the structure was unauthorised.
The demolition was carried out on August 10. “The DDA had the option of giving land to the temple authorities for fresh construction. But the agency could not even give 100 yards of land to the Guru Ravidas Jainti Samaroh Samiti. The DDA sent police, got the temple demolished and also took the idol away,” AAP chief spokesperson Saurabh Bhardwaj claimed during a press conference.
The party’s Dalit faces, Social Welfare Minister Rajendra Pal Gautam and MLAs Rakhi Birla and Manoj Kumar, were also present at the conference.
Gautam has also written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, demanding that steps be taken for reinstatement of the idol at the spot. Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has also sought the PM’s intervention in pacifying the agitating Dalits, who have called for a nationwide strike on August 13.
Gautam said the temple held special importance for Dalits as it is believed that Sant Ravidas himself had visited the site. There are at least 30 crore followers of Sant Ravidas in the country, he said.
The Guru Ravidas Jainti Samaroh Samiti, DDA and the Delhi L-G were parties to the case in the Supreme Court. In its August 9 order, the SC had also ordered the Delhi Chief Secretary to ensure that the structure is removed.
The DDA, in a statement, said the SC had observed that serious breach has been committed by Guru Ravi Das Jainti Samaroh Samiti by not vacating the forest area: “Therefore, the court ordered that the premises be vacated and the structure be removed by DDA with the help of police,” it said.