For the construction of the Ravidas temple in Delhi, the Supreme Court has approved a conditional increase in land to be made available. As per the order, the temple will be constructed over 400 square meters of land on and it will not be used for commercial purposes and no parking will be allowed.

The court granted an appeal made by the center last week, to handover 200 square meters of forest land in a south Delhi neighborhood where the temple once stood. The court has ordered for a panel to be formed, within six weeks, to oversee the construction of the temple. The center has complained, however, to members of the Ravidas Samaroh Samiti, against whom criminal cases are pending, be included in the panel.

A bench comprised of two members and headed by Justice Arun Mishra also directed the release of all arrest persons, on personal bonds, saying “there has to be peace”. The Supreme Court ordered to demolish the temple in August, leading to protests and the arrest of Dalit leader Chandrashekhar Azad.

The top court, earlier this month, said it was open to reconstructing the temple. The court told all petitioners, “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.”

It also asked all the petitioners to convene a meeting with the Attorney General to discuss possible solutions.

The opposition parties strongly protested the demolition of the temple. Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati alleged the incident reflected a “casteist mentality” and the Congress criticizing it as an “insult to the voice of Dalits”.

Criticizing 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.”

However, Delhi’s ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) wants Prime Minister Narendra Modi to intervene to ensure the land be given back to the Ravidas community to reconstruct the temple.

During the bhakti movement, Ravidas was one of the key faces between the 15th and the 16th centuries. Hymns composed by him are included in the Guru Granth Sahib, the holy book of the Sikhs. 

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