NEW DELHI: In a huge step towards restoration of the Sant Ravidas Temple in the national capital, the Supreme Court on Monday accepted the Centre’s revised land allotment offer.
The temple, in the Tughlaqabad area, was razed on August 10 by the Delhi Development Authority on the order of the Supreme Court, which deemed that it was raised in notified forest land.
Last week, the Centre was said it was willing to hand over a piece of land, measuring over 200 square metres, to a committee of devotees that had been put together by the apex court to oversee reconstruction of the temple. The Centre’s offer came in the face of a rising tide of outrage over the temple’s demolition. It said its land allotment offer was in the interest of ensuring peace and harmony.
However, representing the Centre, Attorney General KK Venugopal on Monday said that the Union government had decided to put forward a revised offer of 400 square metres for restoration of the temple. Agreeing to the Centre’s land allotment offer, a bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra said, “Let there be peace.” It also ordered quashing of all criminal cases against those who indulged in violence during an agitation for restoration of the temple.
While setting up the panel to oversee restoration of the temple, the apex court made it clear that no commercial activity would be allowed on the site of the shrine, as it was a designated forest area.
While ordering demolition of the temple, the top court observed that a serious breach had been committed by Guru Ravidas Jayanti Samaroh Samiti, as it had failed to abide by its earlier order of vacating the forest area.
While the demolition of the 500-year-old temple triggered protests in Punjab and Haryana, Dalit protesters, led by Bhim Army chief Chandrasekhar Azad, marched to the capital and blocked roads and traffic to press for restoration of the temple.
August 10: Sant Ravidas temple demolished by the DDA on the order of the Supreme Court
August 12: AAP voices objection over temple demolition, targets BJP
August 12-22: Temple fire spreads as protests break out in Delhi, Punjab and Haryana, which are home to many of the seer’s followers
August 21: Dalit protesters, led by Bhim Army chief Chandrasekhar Azad, descend on Delhi and block roads demanding restoration of the temple
September 11: Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal urges the Centre to denotify the land where the temple stood
October 18: Supreme Court consents to re-allotment of the same land for restoration of the Ravidas temple
October 18: AAP welcomes move to reallocate land for rebuilding the temple
October 21: Centre proposes to allot more land than was originally provided for the construction of the temple