Plot finger at RSS
The Guru Ravidas Jayanti Samaroh Samiti, the body spearheading a movement for reconstructing a temple to the 15th-century-born social reformer, has accused the RSS of trying to take over through a parallel outfit the plot where the shrine stood before it was razed earlier this month.
The accusation came at a news conference on Tuesday where the Samiti said the Sangh was promoting the parallel organisation.
The Sangh, the ruling BJP’s ideological mentor, has denied the allegation.
At the press conference, Sant Sukhdev Waghmare, a leader of the Akhil Bharatiya Ravidas Sangathan, asked the RSS to drop its plan to get the land in the name of the recently created Sant Ravidas Vishwapeeth.
“The RSS is trying to take over the land. They have started an organisation, which is trying to get the land from the government. But the land must be given back to the Guru Ravidas Jayanti Samaroh Samiti, which had been managing the shrine since the beginning,” Waghmare told the meet organised by the Samiti.
Itikar Maharaj, a leader of the movement, said the RSS-supported Vishwapeeth is headed by a pithadhiswar, a post found in temples of dominant Hindu communities but not in shrines of Dalits. “Our sant samaj will not allow a takeover of the shrine land by the Vishwapeeth.”
Rajeev Tuli, RSS state executive member, said the allegation that the Sangh has set up a parallel body “is wrong”.
“Our prime job is to hold shakhas. We feel the Ravidas samaj is part of Hindu samaj. Our effort is to restore the temple at the same place,” Tuli said.
The Delhi development Authority — an agency of the Union government — had on August 10 demolished the temple in the Tughlakabad area, armed with an order from the Supreme Court. The court had held the shrine was located in a green zone.
Rishi Pal, president of the Guru Ravidas Jayanti Samaroh Samiti, said: “Everybody has the right to form an organisation. But they should work for the return of the land to the Ravidas Jayanti Samaroh Samiti. Any other organisation trying to take over the land will not succeed.”
Ravidas is revered by people from socially underprivileged backgrounds for his teachings on equality and social justice. His followers had held a massive rally in the national capital last Wednesday.
Later hundreds tried to visit the spot where the shrine had stood before being stopped by police. Nearly a hundred activists led by Bhim Army leader Chandrashekhar Azad were arrested on charges of rioting and violence.
Waghmare said the main organisers of the August 21 agitation did not endorse the violence by some of the activists.
“Some people intruded into the protest and persuaded our people to go to the (shrine) spot. We did not support such persons,” Waghmare said.
All India Ambedkar Mahasabha leader Ashok Bharati said the followers of Guru Ravidas would sit on relay dharna indefinitely at Jantar Mantar in the national capital from Friday to demand the return of the land, construction of the temple and release of the Dalit activists.