The center has decided to hand over 200 square meters of land in Delhi on which a Ravidas temple stood before it was razed in August on orders from the Supreme Court. Attorney General KK Venugopal who is appearing for the government stated that the decision had been taken to ensure peace and harmony.
The land will be handed over to a committee of Ravidas devotees after the proposal gets accepted. The temple had been demolished after the top court said a “serious breach” had been committed by the Guru Ravidas Jayanti Samaroh Samiti by not vacating the area in which it had been built, which is forest land, as per earlier orders.
On Monday, a bench comprised of two members and headed by Arun Mishra took the center’s proposal on record and listed the matter for further hearing. The Attorney General in his remarks said that the center had reached its decision after holding a consultation with all concerned parties, including devotees and government officials.
The Supreme Court earlier this month had indicated it was open to the possibility of reconstructing the temple. The court asked all the petitioners to convene a meeting with the Attorney General to discuss possible solutions and told them “We respect the sentiments of everyone… better land, better location, and better way. Find out a solution and come back to us. We will pass orders.”
The demolition of the temple has provoked fierce criticism from opposition parties with Bahujan Samajwadi chief Mayawati alleging the incident refected a “casteist mentality” and the Congress criticizing it as an “insult to the voice of Dalits”.
According to the police, protests led by Dalit leader and Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad turned violent, leading to several vehicles being damaged and two motorcycles being set on fire. In the case, Chandrashekhar Azad and 90 other leaders were arrested.
Hitting out at the center, Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra tweeted in Hindi after their arrest “This insult to the voice of Dalits is intolerable. This is an emotive issue. Their voices must be respected.”
The AAP of Delhi has demanded Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s intervention in ensuring the land be given back to the Ravidas community to rebuild the place of worship.