The Supreme Court on Monday accepted the Centre’s revised offer to hand over to a committee of Ravidas devotees 400 square metres of the same site in Tughlakabad where a Guru Ravidas temple stood before being razed two months ago, PTI reported. The 15th-century temple was demolished on August 10 on the orders of the top court after a petitioner accused the temple authorities of encroachment.
On Friday, the Centre had offered 200 square metres of land. Attorney General KK Venugopal told the court of Justices Arun Mishra and S Ravindra Bhat that the Centre had double its offer keeping in mind devotees’ sentiments.
The court told the Centre to create a committee to construct the temple within six weeks, and added that there should be no commercial activity in and around the area earmarked for the temple. The judges also ordered the government to release the people who were arrested during the protests following the demolition.
On Saturday, a Delhi court had granted bail to Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad, almost two months after he was arrested for protesting against the demolition of the temple. Azad, who was taken into custody along with 95 people, was lodged in Tihar Jail on charges of rioting and unlawful assembly. So far, 94 of the 96 protestors have been released on bail.
On August 21 clashes broke out between the police and Dalit protestors during the demonstration against the temple demolition. During the clashes, the police resorted to baton-charge and used tear gas to disperse the protestors. The Bhim Army accused the police of firing at protestors. The police claimed the protestors turned violent and seven officers were injured.
The protestors had gathered under the banner of the Akhil Bharatiya Sant Shiromani Guru Ravidas Mandir Sanyukta Sanrakhshan Samiti, an umbrella body of Dalit groups formed for the temple movement. They demanded that the government hand over the land to the community and rebuild the temple.
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