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Ravidas Temple demolition: DDA officials say will wait for SC order

The temple was demolished on August 10 by the Delhi Development Authority on orders of the Supreme Court since it was occupying forest land. Protesters, largely Dalit devotees who landed in Delhi from Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, have been demanding that the temple be restored at the same location.

Written by Mallica Joshi | New Delhi |
Updated: August 22, 2019 8:53:50 am
Ravidas temple demolition, Ravidas temple demolition protests, Ravidas temple Tughlakabad, Ravidas temple dalit protests Ravidas temple demolition case, delhi city news Thousands of protesters gathered at Ramlila Maidan and then headed to Tughlakabad. Gajendra Yadav

As violence broke out at Tughlakabad and Ramlila Maidan after thousands took to the streets to protest the demolition of the Ravidas Temple, agencies said they will await the Supreme Court order to decide whether a new piece of land will be allotted for the temple elsewhere in the city.

The temple was demolished on August 10 by the Delhi Development Authority on orders of the Supreme Court since it was occupying forest land. Protesters, largely Dalit devotees who landed in Delhi from Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, have been demanding that the temple be restored at the same location.

When protests broke out in Punjab over the incident, Housing and Urban Affairs Minister Hardeep Puri had met Lt Governor Anil Baijal to work out a solution. After the meeting,he had tweeted, “We, along with V-C DDA, are determined to find a solution and possibly identify an alternate site where the temple can be relocated. We have also suggested to the affected parties to appeal to Hon’ble Court to issue necessary directions in this regard.”

According to officials from the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, which governs DDA, the Guru Ravidas Jainti Samaroh Samiti, which manages the temple, had first approached a Delhi court over possession of the land in 2016.

The suit and the Samiti’s claim to the land was dismissed in 2018. The Samiti then approached the Delhi High Court in 2018 but their appeal was dismissed. The court, however, said the Samiti can submit a representation to DDA within four weeks of the order “to allow them to relocate the one-room temple, courtyard and two small rooms, a small distance away at the boundary of the forest land, and DDA to liberally consider such representation”.

But no representation was filed and the Samiti, instead, challenged the HC order in Supreme Court in 2019. This too was dismissed by the SC, which ordered it to vacate the land by August.

“That is why we took action. We had not approached the courts, the Samiti did. If we get directions to allot land afresh, we will,” said DDA vice-chairperson Tarun Kapoor.

An official added: “The action was not isolated… In the past, many temples, churches and mosques found encroaching on government land have been razed or encroachments removed.”

On Monday, the apex court said its order must not be politicised.

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