Ravi­das Tem­ple: Ac­tivists plan protest

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - Times City - Mo­hua Chat­ter­jee & Swati Mathur

New Delhi: Dalit ac­tivists led by Ravi­dasi sants have called for a sec­ond protest march on Septem­ber 21, de­mand­ing the re­lease of those who were ar­rested one month ago dur­ing a show of protest against the de­mo­li­tion of Ravi­das Tem­ple in Tugh­laqabad.

On Mon­day, a group of civil so­ci­ety ac­tivists also de­manded the re­lease of Dalit ac­tivists, mostly be­long­ing to the Bhim Army led by Chan­drashekhar Azad.

The de­ci­sion of the Akhil Bharatiya Sant Shi­ro­mani Guru Ravi­das Mandir Sanyukta San­rakhshan Samity, an um­brella body of Dalit groups formed for the tem­ple move­ment, de­cided to call for a sec­ond protest march on Satur­day, which would start from Jan­tar Man­tar and head for the Tugh­laqabad tem­ple site. Last week the ac­tivists of­fered prayers at the site while also de­mand­ing re­lease of those who are be­ing held un­der ju­di­cial cus­tody.

At least 96 young ac­tivists, in­clud­ing, Azad were ar­rested in Delhi and be­fore that oth­ers were ar­rested in Pun­jab for protest­ing on the same is­sue and they have been kept in ju­di­cial cus­tody, Dalit ac­tivist Ashok Bharti told TOI. The ac­tivists threat­ened to court ar­rest if their associates were not re­leased. There are about 150 Ravi­das tem­ples in Delhi, ac­cord­ing to Bharti.

Con­demn­ing Azad’s ar­rest, civil so­ci­ety or­gan­i­sa­tions and stu­dent bod­ies dubbed the govern­ment’s ac­tions as “anti-Dalit” and “anti-mi­nor­ity” and de­manded that Azad be re­leased im­me­di­ately. They also de­manded im­me­di­ate re­con­struc­tion of Sant Ravi­das Tem­ple in Tugh­laqabad.

The group also protested against the “un­law­ful” cases filed against over 750 peo­ple from the Dalit com­mu­nity, in­clud­ing na­tional gen­eral sec­re­tary of Bhim Army, Ka­mal Singh Walia, in Ut­tar Pradesh’s Sa­ha­ran­pur on Septem­ber 10, where they were protest­ing against van­dal­i­sa­tion of a statue of BR Ambed­kar.

Senior ad­vo­cate Mehmood Paracha, All In­dia Stu­dents’ As­so­ci­a­tion na­tional pres­i­dent Sucheta De and Jawa­har­lal Nehru Uni­ver­sity Stu­dents Union (JNUSU) Pres­i­dent Aishe Ghosh were among those who con­demned the govern­ment for tar­get­ing Bhim Army lead­ers.

File photo

ANGER ON STREETS: The protesters have been de­mand­ing the im­me­di­ate re­con­struc­tion of Sant Ravi­das Tem­ple in Tugh­laqabad

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