Ravidas temple demolition protest: Before violence, police told shops in area to closehttps://indianexpress.com/article/cities/delhi/ravidas-temple-demolition-protest-before-violence-police-told-shops-in-area-to-close-5928773/

Ravidas temple demolition protest: Before violence, police told shops in area to close

Hundreds of protesters marched from Ramlila Maidan to Tughlaqabad, where the temple site is located, and Bhim Army chief and Dalit leader Chandrashekhar Azad was arrested.

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Vehicles damaged during the protest. (Gajendra Yadav)

By 5.30 pm Wednesday, Kalpana (52) hurriedly closed her general store in Tughlaqabad’s Jagdamba Road market after policemen showed up at her doorstep with a word of caution. From the window of her room upstairs, she claimed that she watched as young men, with faces covered with handkerchiefs, set a motorbike on fire.

Late Wednesday evening, violence broke out over the Supreme Court-mandated demolition of Ravidas temple inside Jahanpanah city forest on August 10. Hundreds of protesters marched from Ramlila Maidan to Tughlaqabad, where the temple site is located, and Bhim Army chief and Dalit leader Chandrashekhar Azad was arrested.

DCP (South East) Chinmoy Biswal said, “96 people were arrested Wednesday for taking part in violence; there was stone-pelting, loss of property and some officers were injured too. A police motorbike was set on fire and some vehicles, including a DTC bus, were damaged.” He said the arrested protesters mostly hail from Punjab, Haryana and UP, with a few from Delhi.

Jagdamba Road is located across Guru Ravidas Marg, where the entry to the temple inside the Jahanpanah forest was. A day later, the market opened at the usual time and paramilitary forces, barricades, a fire tender and police guarded the demolished temple site on the main road.

PB Mehta writes | Ravidas, faith, power

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On the wall outside the temple site is a message from the Delhi Development Authority: “As per directive of the Supreme Court, this land comes under the DDA. Any kind of illegal occupation of this land is a criminal offence.” The two entrances to the temple inside the forest are not accessible to the public.

“There was stone-pelting and several car windows were broken. This started around 8 pm and went on till 10.30-11 pm,” said Kalpana.

Sanjay, an iron-smith, who lives in a shanty on the Guru Ravidas Marg said, “The police asked us to go inside the house at 7 pm and we only got out at 7 am Thursday. They didn’t let the protesters come this side.”