The central government told the Supreme Court on Friday it is ready to rebuild the Saint Ravidas temple in Delhi at the same site where the shrine was demolished in August on the court’s orders.
Attorney General KK Venugopal submitted that the decision has been taken to ensure peace and harmony, after the demolition at south Delhi’s Tughlakabad had sparked widespread protests by devotees.
“That same 200 square metre area of the site can be handed over to a committee of devotees for construction of temple,” Venugopal said, adding that five out of seven petitioners, who approached court against demolition of temple have agreed to the proposal.
A bench of Justices Arun Mishra and S Ravindra Bhat took on record the offer made by Venugopal and asked parties seeking construction of a temple to submit objections if any by Monday.The court said it will pronounce its final judgment on the matter on October 23.
On October 4, the top court had asked the parties involved in a plea seeking permission to rebuild the Guru Ravidas temple in Delhi’s Tughlaqabad forest area to come back to it with an amicable solution on a better location for the temple.
The Saint Ravidas temple was demolished by the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) on August 10 on the orders of the Supreme Court. Following the demolition of the 500-year-old temple, there were widespread protests and bandh in Punjab on August 13th due to the temple demolition. Key organizations advocating for Dalit rights had supported the call for a nationwide bandh.
The top court had said it respects everybody’s sentiments but the law has to be followed.
Attorney General has told the SC that he held consultation with all concerned parties including devotees and government officials and that the Centre has agreed to give the land considering sensitivity and faith of devotees for the site.
The issue also took a political hue with various parties demanding that the temple be reconstructed either at the same spot in the Tughlakabad forest area or at an alternative location.
The gathering in the national capital saw the presence of Delhi’s Social Justice Minister Rajendra Pal Gautam, Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad and spiritual leaders from the community.
The demolition of the temple in Delhi’s Tughlakabad locality had turned violent when police opened fire at the protestors, shelled tear gas and resorted to brutal lathi-charge injuring protestors. Due to a rumor that one of the protestors has died, the protest turned violent and there were some instances of vandalism.
Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad and 95 others were later sent to 14-day judicial custody on charges of rioting and unlawful assembly.
The members of the Ravidas or Ravidassia community are Dalits and form an offshoot of Sikhism. They follow Ravidas, whose teachings are also mentioned in the Guru Granth Sahib.