CPI(M) Polit Bureau Member, Brinda Karat has addressed a letter to Hardeep Puri, Minister for Urban Development demanding that the demolished Guru Ravidas temple is rebuilt and the samadhis are restored in their original place. The full text of the letter is being released for publication.
August 16, 2019
Dear Shri Hardeep Puri ji,
This is to draw your attention to the demolition of the Guru Ravidas Mandir and four samadhis in the “forest area” in Tughlaqabad extension on August 10. I had visited the place on August 14th along with my Party colleagues and office bearers of the Dalit Soshan Mukti Manch and met the petitioners (Guru Ravidas Samiti) who gave me the details and took us to the site.
I had read in the papers that you had met the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi in this connection and are working out “a solution” namely to “allot another place” for the temple and the samadhis. Unfortunately in these developments the DDA, which is directly under your Ministry, has played the worst role in riding roughshod over the legitimate grievances of the petitioners leading to the present plight. I strongly urge you to rectify this by going in for a review petition before the Supreme Court.
The entire approach of the Government is based on double standards. On the one hand the Government is in court in defence of the “faith of people” on the demand to build a temple in Ayodhya on the exact spot where the Babri Masjid stood. On the other hand a spot which has been for decades a pilgrimage centre for the devotees of Guru Ravidas and on which a small temple structure was erected in the decade of the fifties has been demolished by the same Government. Even worse the samadhis of four of the pujaris who have served in the temple since then were also demolished. Even though there was a strong legal case, the government went against the petitioners. Does it not display a discriminatory attitude because the devotees belong mainly to the Scheduled Castes?
You are well aware that the road adjacent to where the Ravidas mandir stood is named Guru Ravidas Marg and there are two bus stops also with the same name, precisely because of the existence of the mandir. Is this not a recognition of the existence of the mandir now demolished which answers the motivated propaganda against the community as “encroachers”? If it was encroachment then why was a public space named after the mandir? Secondly, if you care to visit the area you will find that DDA has permitted the building of a clubhouse in the same area. Only very recently new roads have been built in the wooded area. Is this not double standards? I also saw that in the course of the demolition, the DDA had destroyed a number of trees.
The mandir has been operational well before independence whereas devotees have been coming to the spot specifically a pond where they believe their Guru Ravidas had visited for ages. The structure demolished was built in the decade of the fifties to replace a makeshift structure which was there. All this is a matter of record. What is particularly distressing is that the DDA did not even spare the samadhis of the pujaris which were broken up and the stones to mark the graves were also left broken or under the mud. Is this the kind of respect the DDA has for the keepers of a temple frequented by people belonging to the scheduled castes?
The Delhi High Court had made the suggestion to relocate the temple 400 yards away while keeping the samadhis intact. However the DDA by its actions of demolition of the samadhis and the temple has changed the situation.
I therefore request you to ensure that the temple is rebuilt and the samadhis are restored in their original place. This is also to inform you that the CPI(M) has extended support to the struggle of the devotees of Guru Ravidas for justice.