Amid reports that a centuries-old temple dedicated to Guru Ravidas has been by the authorities on the direction of the Supreme Court at Tughlakabad in New Delhi Saturday, members of Ravidasia community held protests at several places in Punjab’s Doaba region, home to the largest concentration of SC population in the state. They blocked a stretch of the Jalandhar-Phagwara National Highway (NH) 1, resulting in a traffic jam that left commuters stranded for several hours.
Reports of protests by Dalits also poured in from Nawanshahr, Adampur, Jalandhar and Hoshiarpur. The protesters, led by Sri Guru Ravidas Sadhu Sampardai Society chairman Sant Mohinderpal Pandwa, blocked the NH-1 in front of Shiromani Guru Ravidas Temple near Chak Hakeem village on the Phagwara-Jalandhar stretch. The blockade resulted in long queues of vehicles on both sides of the highway, causing inconvenience to commuters in hot and humid weather. Near Ludhiana, the parents could not pick their children from schools for several hours.
As a precautionary measure, the authorities diverted the traffic at several places, officials said. The SC wing president of the Lok Insaaf Party, Jarnail Nangal, expressed anguish over the Supreme Court order. The apex court had ordered the demolition of the 500-year-old temple built at a place “hallowed” by Guru Ravidas, he said. He alleged that the idol of the guru was desecrated, hurting religious sentiments of his followers.
Raising slogans against the Union government and the Supreme Court, the protesters said the Delhi government and Parliament should adopt a resolution to grant the same land at Tughlakabad for the reconstruction of the temple. They threatened to block the highway once again on Tuesday if their grievances were not addressed by Monday.
The blockade on the national highway was lifted after the intervention of Phagwara SP Mandeep Singh and SDM Jai Inder Singh.
Sant Mohinderpal Pandwa and other religious leaders, including Sant Krishan Lal Chaheru, Sant Jaswinder Singh Dandia, Sant Tehal Nath, Ambedkar Sena president Harbhjan Suman and Dalit stalwart Jaswinder Dhanda, were among those who observed the dharna.