Thousands of Dalits from various political parties hit the streets of Delhi on Wednesday to protest against the demolition of Sant Ravidas Temple. The temple of Sant Ravidas was demolished on August 10 by the DDA, following the orders of the Supreme Court. People form Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan and several other states assembled in Ramlila grounds to register their protest.
However what marred these protests was the following violence and several political leaders coming out and trying to churn this issue into another anti government rhetoric, while carefully sidling the fact that the demolition was ordered by the Apex court and executed by an independent body. While some claimed the temple to be of archaeological significance however, no record to prove the same has surfaced.
Sant Ravidas was one of the pioneers of the Bhakti movements during the 15th to 16th century and has followers from across caste lines. However some political leaders have tried to portray it again as some sort of caste struggle.
“Those who are asking us to simply relocate our temple are often the same people who have been agitating for Ram Mandir for the past several decades. Why the double standards when it comes to the rights of schedule castes?” asked Rakesh Bahadur, executive president, All India Ambedkar Mahasabha, who led a number of protesters from Haryana to Delhi.
Also joining these protests was controversial political leader and Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad alias ‘Raavan’ who was detained along several protesters, for “unruly and violent” behavior by the Delhi police . However some Dalit leaders who participated in Wednesday’s protests blamed the state authorities for the incidents of violence.
The notorious Aam Aadmi Party also jumped in the protest, seemingly in a similar attempt to use this administrative action to churn political support for the upcoming state assembly elections. While the decision to demolish the temple came from the Apex Court, an AAP leader accused the BJP of demolishing the temple and also claimed that the Centre had not taken any measures to solve the ongoing issue.
“I am here as a representative of the community and not as a Delhi minister or politician. We respect the Supreme Court order, but the government should answer why only temples of the Dalit community and statues of B R Ambedkar are being demolished across the country?” Delhi minister, Rajendra Pal Gautam asked . He also added, “The Union government resorted to repressive steps like stopping buses and nearly 15 passenger trains from Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, in order to prevent people from joining the protest.”
Further complicating the issue the Delhi legislative assembly on Thursday resolved that “the Government of NCT of Delhi should construct a magnificent Ravidas Mandir at the same site after the Centre allots the land” Despite there being no role of Central government in the current developments.
Ravi Das Temple demolition issue: Legislative Assembly of Delhi in its meeting today resolved that "the Government of NCT of Delhi should construct a magnificent Ravidas Mandir at the same site after the Centre allots the land". pic.twitter.com/a6eRYFRMQ3
— ANI (@ANI) August 22, 2019
However this is not the first time when several political parties have mislead the people into politically suitable narratives far from realities, not only hindering proper resolution of the issues through marked channels but also reducing sensitive matters into opportunity to churn political support for their personal political ambitions; even if it means meddling with the faith of thousands of devotees of Sant Ravidas.