The Punjab government on Monday failed in its attempt to carry out the Punjab and Haryana high court orders and restore the possession of Dhuna Sahib and two other disputed sites at the ancient Ram Tirath shrine here to mahant Baldev Giri.
At the end of the day, the disputed sites remained with Bhagwan Valmiki Dhuna Sahib Management Trust, with Giri watching helplessly from a distance. Sitting under a banyan tree, he observed the huge police contingent disperse around 4pm after not moving a muscle.
“It was all a drama to prevent the handover of the sites to me. The state government enacted it for the 19th time since 2004,” the said mahant Giri, adding that he expected it.
Appointed to oversee the implementation of the high court order, civil court bailiff Mohinder Singh, also was reduced to a silent spectator. “I will report to the court,” he said when some policemen tried to engage him in a conversation.
On September 4, the high court had directed Amritsar (rural) senior superintendent of police Jasdeep Singh to execute the warrant of possession by September 8 (Monday). On Thursday (September 11), the SSP has to file an action-taken report.
The high court had to intervene when the state government had failed repeatedly to carry out the 2004 orders of a lower court at Ajnala, which had ruled in the favour of mahant Giri in a the 1993 possession dispute.
Since then, the police have made many attempts to evacuate the sites; but the government is of the opinion that the use of force can lead to a law-and-order problem.
‘Govt should pay petitioner’
With the two warring factions refusing to budge, the atmosphere was tense all day at the Ram Tirath temple. While Baldev Giri waved the court verdict, members of Bhagwan Valmiki Trust made it clear that their sentiments were attached to Dhuna Sahib (prayer room) and the other two sites where it is believed that Lord Ram and Sita had stayed and Maharshi Valmiki had taught their sons, Luv and Kush.
The police had raised barricades at different spots on the road from Amritsar to the shrine, as there were reports that supporters of the trust were moving to the disputed sites. At one stage, the police cordoned off the entire complex but, later, allow the devotees in.
Later, a group led by trust president Om Parkash Gabbar made its way to the Dhuna Sahib site and remained for the rest of the day. To see that the court orders was implemented peacefully, senior officials of the civil and police administration had separate meetings with mahant Giri and Akali councillor Gabbar. Gabbar updated mahant Malkiat Nath, who occupies the disputed sites and has backing of the trust.
“The state government can find another way out. This place is close to the hearts of every member of the Valmiki community,” said Gabbar, adding: “It can always offer Giri some money and ask him to withdraw the case and give up his claim to the sites.”
Asked about the failed attempt, Amritsar (rural) SSP Jasdeep Singh said: “We had made all necessary arrangements to secure the shrine but looking at the size of opposition, we felt the use of force could lead to a law-and-order problem.”