Amid a controversy over the demolition of a Guru Ravidas "temple" in a forest area in Tughlaqabad here, Delhi Social Welfare Minister Rajendra Pal Gautan on Monday sought Prime Minister Narendra Modi's intervention in ensuring that the "land be given back" to the community to rebuild the place of worship.
The AAP minister in a press conference here alleged that the Delhi Development Authority (DDA), in presence of a police force, had demolished it on Saturday morning, and the statue of the "temple" has been "taken away".
The DDA in a statement issued on Monday, however, did not use the word temple, 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," the DDA said in the statement.
A senior police officer said, based on the directions of the Supreme Court, the demolition was carried out by the authorities concerned. Police were present to oversee the law and order situation in the area.
Gautam, during the press conference, claimed that Sant Ravidas had visited the area during the reign of king Sikander Lodi and established an ashram there, adding, "in government documents, the temple and pond is marked".
"Today, I have written to the Prime Minister appealing to him to show the same readiness as he does in other important matters, since crores of people in the county follow Sant Ravidas.
"I have urged him to intervene in the matter so that the land can be allocated back to the community, and the temple be rebuilt and the statue be reinstalled," Gautam told reporters.
A DDA official said the place of worship was located in Jahanpanah City Forest in Tughlaqabad, "and, the aggrieved parties can still appeal to the Supreme Court if they are not satisfied".
Amid protest from the community in his state, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Sunday had sought Prime Minister Modi's intervention to resolve the matter.
The DDA in its statement said the apex court in a case titled 'Guru Ravi Das Jayanti Samaroh Samiti vs Union of India', had on August 9 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.
"Therefore, the Hon'ble Supreme Court ordered that the premises be vacated tomorrow and the structure be removed by Delhi Development Authority (DDA) with the help of Police," it said
In case of non-compliance, Rishipal, president of Guru Ravi Das Jayanti Samaroh Samiti, was to present himself in the court. Further, Delhi Police and the chief secretary to the government of Delhi were asked to ensure that the structure was removed, the DDA said in its statement.
In compliance with the order, senior officials of Delhi Police, SDM from Delhi government, DDA's senior officials and Guru Ravi Das Jayanti Samaro Samiti members were to be present on site in Jahanpanah forests on August 10, the DDA said.
"The standing permanent structure was dismantled peacefully without any resistance or use of force, in the presence of Samiti members. It is also clarified that the suit was filed by Guru Ravi Das Jayanti Samaroh Samiti and not by the DDA," the statement said.
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