Willing To Hand Over Ravidas Temple Land: Centre To Supreme Court

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

Willing To Hand Over Ravidas Temple Land: Centre To Supreme Court

Supreme Court has listed Ravidas Temple matter for further hearing on Monday

New Delhi:

The centre has offered to hand over 200 square metres of land in Delhi on which a Ravidas temple stood before it was razed in August on orders from the Supreme Court. Appearing for the government, Attorney General KK Venugopal said the decision had been taken to ensure peace and harmony. Should the proposal be accepted, the land will be handed over to a committee of Ravidas devotees. 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.

A two-member bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra took the centre's proposal on record and listed the matter for further hearing on Monday.

In his remarks, the Attorney General said the centre had reached its decision after holding a consultation with all concerned parties, including devotees and government officials.

Earlier this month the top court had indicated it was open to the possibility of rebuilding the temple.

"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 court told all petitioners, asking them to convene a meeting with the Attorney General to discuss possible solutions.

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

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