Followers gather in Delhi to protest Sant Ravidas temple demolition
Located just half-a-kilometre from the demolition site is another temple in Govindpuri dedicated to Guru Ravidas where members of the Dalit community are congregating from Punjab and neighbouring states for the protest.Updated: Aug 21, 2019 01:32 IST
Sukhpal Singh and Sandeep Singh, both daily wage workers, have come all the way from Mansa, Punjab, to participate in the protest planned at Jantar Mantar on Wednesday against the demolition of Sant Ravidas temple in Tughlaqabad last week.
Located just half-a-kilometre from the demolition site is another temple in Govindpuri dedicated to Guru Ravidas where members of the Dalit community are congregating from Punjab and neighbouring states for the protest.
“It is a matter of faith for us. It is an important place of worship for us. We will stay here till the permission to rebuild the temple at the same location is granted,” said Sukhpal Singh.
In the last two days, hundreds of people have come to the temple and other areas to participate in the protest, said Dharamvir Singh, member of the committee overseeing the preparations for the Wednesday’s protest.
“People have come in large numbers from different states. We will march from Ambedkar Bhawan near Jhandewalan to Jantar Mantar. Whatever happened was wrong and has hurt the community,” said Dharamvir Singh.
At the demolition site, the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) has constructed a wall blocking the entry point to the site where the temple once stood. The only entry available to the site is from Jahanpanah forest, which is under the DDA, but it is also blocked. “They (DDA) open the gates only in the morning and evening hours. We can’t go there,” said Gurmeet Singh, a resident of Tughlaqabad extension, which is located just across the road.
Gurmeet says that ever since the demolition, people have started offering prayers near the newly constructed wall. “There is a pond in the temple complex and people have faith that the water has healing properties. We have not been able to visit the place for the past 10 days,” said Gurmeet.
Refusing to accept the apex court’s order, members of the community say that it is a matter of faith for them and an alternate site is not acceptable to them. “Our guru had visited the place. We have been worshipping here for years. We want the temple to be constructed at the same location,” said Narendra Jassi, a member of the committee of Ravidas temples in the national capital.
BK Singh, another resident of Tughlaqabad extension and a regular visitor to the Sant Ravidas temple, said, “No action is taken against other religious structures. This was demolished as it belonged to the SC community. The temple has been there for hundreds of years.”
BJP MP Vijay Goel said that he has held meetings with the community leaders and has assured them of a solution. “I had placed before them a proposal to provide an alternate site. If they agree to it, then we can take it up with the DDA and also seek Supreme Court’s approval. I have requested the community leaders to ensure that political parties are kept out of the protest. We should work towards finding a solution to the problem.”
A senior DDA official said, “The wall was constructed as per the court order. Those who want to visit the pond or the water body can go from the forest area.”
First Published: Aug 20, 2019 22:37 IST