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Protests over Ravidas temple demolition: CM seeks PM's intervention

Press Trust of India  |  Chandigarh 

Amid the state-wide protest by Ravidas community over the alleged demolition of a Guru Ravidas temple in New Delhi on the purported direction of apex court, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Sunday sought Prime Minister Narendra Modi's intervention to pacify the sectarian strife.

Singh made the appeal to the prime minister as community members holding demonstrations under the banner of Guru Ravidas Jayanti Samaroh Samiti called for a nationwide shutdown on August 13 and to observe Independence Day as a 'Black Day' to protest the demolition of the temple in New Delhi's Tughlakabad area.

Taking note of the protests, the chief minister on Sunday said though he did not wish to comment on the Supreme Court's judgement, which led to the razing of the religious structure, he did not favour demolitions of monuments and structures of historical importance, connected so deeply with the sentiments of any community".

Dalits on Saturday had held protests at several places in Punjab amid reports of the temple's demolition.

Chief Minister Singh also appealed to the community members to call off their protests, saying the state government was ready to extend its full support to them to get the matter amicably resolved with the Central government.

Singh also spoke to Union Urban Development Minister Hardeep Singh Puri to seek reallotment of the temple land, reportedly belonging to the Delhi Development Authority, to enable the community to rebuild the temple.

Legends say the sacred place on which the temple was built was visited by Guru Ravidas around 1509 during the reign of Sikander Lodhi.

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, said an official statement, quoting the chief minister.

The committee comprised of Santokh Singh, Charanjit Singh Channi, Raj Kumar Chabbewal, Aruna Chaudhary and Sushil Kumar Rinku.

Underlining the need to uphold the sanctity of the site, important not only for Ravidas community but for all Sikhs and Punjabis the world over, the chief minister said the demolition of the temple could trigger serious unrest among the community members, not just in Punjab but elsewhere too.

The chief minster said it was essential to resolve the matter urgently, taking all the concerned parties, including the DDA, into confidence and by taking into account the the vast pool of legal and other evidence which prove the historic and religious links of the site with Guru Ravidas.

Singh said given the "gravity and sensitivity" of the matter, it was imperative that the Central government, led by the prime minister himself, take all possible steps to restore the site to its original structure and layout.

An official spokesperson later said the chief minister took cognisance of the issue amid protests by Dalits at Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Phagwara, Gurdaspur and Amritsar, where several state highways were blocked, causing hardship to commuters.

The protesters, led by Sri Guru Ravidas Sadhu Sampardai Society chairman Sant Mohinderpal Pandwa, also blocked the national highway-1 opposite the Shiromani Guru Ravidas Temple near Chak Hakeem village on the Phagwara-Jalandhar stretch.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sun, August 11 2019. 21:05 IST