As many parts of Punjab witnessed lockdown and protests over the recent Supreme Court’s order of demolishing a Guru Ravidas temple in Tughlaqabad forest area in New Delhi, the apex court warned that it would initiate contempt proceedings against those protesting.
Referring to the agitation being held in Punjab, a bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra said "You cannot go on and on and make comments and criticism of the judgment. This is the Supreme Court. Don't invoke politics here.”
What We Know About the Demolition
While Delhi Social Welfare Minister Rajendra Pal Gautam on Monday alleged that the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) demolished the temple in the presence of a police force last Saturday, 10 August, and the statue was "taken away", the DDA did not use the word “temple” in its statement, and said the "structure was removed as per the orders of the Supreme Court".
“The standing permanent structure was dismantled peacefully without any resistance or use of force in the presence of Guru Ravi Das Jayanti Samaroh Samiti members.”DDA had said in the statement.
The DDA, in an earlier statement, said the apex court in a case titled 'Guru Ravi Das Jayanti Samaroh Samiti vs Union of India', had on 9 August observed that "serious breach" has been committed by Guru Ravi Das Jayanti Samaroh Samiti by not vacating the forest area as earlier ordered by the court.
Legends say the sacred place on which the temple was built was visited by Guru Ravidas around 1509 during the reign of Sikander Lodhi.
What We Know About the Protests
Soon after the reports of demolition came out, Dalit groups organised protests in parts of Delhi, Haryana and Punjab.
On Tuesday, Punjab witnessed a complete shutdown on Tuesday in response to a bandh call given by Dalit groups.
Protesters blocked roads at a few places including the Jalandhar-Delhi national highway, sat on dharnas, burnt effigies and placed burning tyres on roads.
Bhim Army National President Vinay Ratan Singh said a massive protest has been planned in Delhi against the demolition of the temple on 21 August. The Dalit group’s chief, Chandrashekhar Azad, who was also present at the protest, demanded that “their temple, their honour” be returned to them.
What Are Political Leaders Saying?
Amid protest from the community in his state, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Sunday, 11 August, had sought Prime Minister Modi's intervention to resolve the matter.
Promising all legal and financial help to the community to resolve the matter and rebuild the temple at the same place, Singh also set up a 5-member panel to meet the religious and political representatives of the community and formulate a strategy to resolve the issue with the Centre.
Union Housing and Urban Affairs Minister, Hardeep Singh Puri, met Delhi Lt Governor Anil Baijal and discussed the issue. He tweeted that the Centre is determined to find a solution and possibly identify an alternative site to "relocate" it.
DDA member and Malviya Nagar MLA Somnath Bharti said he raised the issue in a separate meeting held with the LG on Tuesday and demanded that the temple must reinstated at the same location.
The Congress on Tuesday accused the Modi government of being "anti-Dalit" and demanded that the Guru Ravidas temple in Delhi's Tughlaqabad area be rebuilt.
Akali Dal Spreads Misinformation That AAP Demolished The Temple
Although, DDA, which comes under the Central govt demolished the temple on orders of the top court, Shiromani Akali Dal President Sukhbir Singh Badal, on Monday, had tweeted saying "The demolition of the 500-year-old Sri Ravidas temple in Delhi is condemnable and testifies Aam Aadmi Party's thought process.”
(With inputs from PTI)