The Supreme Court has said it "respects the sentiment of everyone" and indicated it is open to the possibility of rebuilding the Ravidas temple in Delhi that it ordered demolished in August. The temple had been razed 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.
"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," a two-member bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra and including Justice S Ravindra Bhatt said today.
The court directed petitioners to discuss the matter with the Attorney General.
"We have to follow the law. Come up with a good solution. Let us see what best we can do," Justice Mishra added.
The court was responding to petitions filed by former Congress MPs Ashok Tanwar and Pradeep Jain Aditya, who alleged they were "being denied right to worship due to demolition" of the temple. They also said that more than six crore followers of Guru Ravidas were similarly affected.
The demolition of the Ravidas temple, built in forest area of south Delhi's Tughlakabad neighborhood, had provoked fierce criticism from opposition parties, with Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati alleging the incident reflected a "casteist mentality" and the Congress criticising it as an "insult to the voice of Dalits".
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, according to police. Chandrashekhar Azad and 90 other leaders were arrested.
"This insult to the voice of Dalits is intolerable. This is an emotive issue. Their voices must be respected," Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra tweeted in Hindi after their arrest, hitting out at the centre.
Delhi's ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) 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.
Ravidas was one of the key faces of the bhakti movement between the 15th and the 16th centuries. Hymns written by him are included in the Guru Granth Sahib, the holy book of the Sikhs. He is considered as the founder of 21st-century Ravidassia religion.
With input from PTI