The Demolition of Sant Guru Ravidass Temple And The Way Forward For Dalits

The Demolition of Sant Guru Ravidass Temple                   

Tughlabad is a town situated in Delhi National Capital Regions. This area is not fully developed as compared to other posh localities of Delhi. Several big or small forts were built in this area during the reign of Sultan Ibrahm Lodi(1517-1526). Tughlabad is politically hot area due to the presence of all national political parties.  Sant Guru Ravidass visited Sikander Lodi in 1509 and stayed at Tughlabad fort. Sant Guru Ravidass, known to be a revolutionary poet who through his poetry and sermons preached against the inhuman practice of caste discrimination. Out of respect and reverence, Lodi admired Sant Guru Ravidass and offered him a place to stay which later on converted into Sant Guru Ravidass Temple.

After the temple demolition order by Honorable Supreme Court of India, all the Dalit communities across India including Dalit Diaspora got enraged and thought of protesting against the irrational decision of the court. More than tens of thousands of people came to Delhi- the Capital of India and staged their protest. Hundreds of Ravidassi and Ambedkarite organizations participated in the protest. Samata Sainik Dal, Punjab unit scrupulously condemned the demolition. Dalit Diaspora in England, Canada, USA, France, Germany and many other parts of the world registered their protest publicly and through electronic media.  Ambedkarite International Coordinating Society(AICS) Canada Harjinder and Chanchal Mall, Anand Balley, Manjit Kainth and many more members organized their protest and also wrote to the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi and the Chief Minister of Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal urging them to file a writ petition on behalf of their respective governments and restore the temple to the original site. No doubt, everyone belonging to the Dalit community is fuming with rage.

After the irrational judgment, one thing is clear that Brahminical forces are bent upon destroying the history of Dalit icons one by one. The judiciary is in the hands of Brahmins hence they can twist the facts as per their convenience. Reservation is being systematically abrogated. The vacancies advertised by the Government departments reserved for SCs/STs are not filled. There is an urgent need to probe a question: Why such things are happening with the Dalits in India? From ghastly murders of Dalit students to reservation, the Brahminical forces have been utilizing all possible political and economic power in their hands to annihilate the Dalit communities. To some extent they are successful. The contemporary situation for the members of the Dalit community is alarming in ‘Nayya Bharat’ under the BJP/RSS.

In Delhi protest, my observation is that Dalits lack leadership qualities. The unplanned spontaneous protest without central leadership is bound to fail. It is emphasized hollow emotions and sentiments are not enough to restore the glory of Dalit icons. There is a need to understand first the enemy is powerful and cunning. In order to tackle such enemy, there is an urgent to establish a Central Body under the guidance of learned, professional, dedicated, highly educated Dalit leaders consisting of Professors, lawyers, researchers, and revolutionary volunteers. The people recruited for such pious work should be ready to sacrifice their personal interests and material gains. Lahori Ram Balley, Editor Bheem Patrika aged 90,(worked with Baba Saheb Dr. Ambedkar, published more than 250 books in Hindi, Urdu, English, and Punjabi) young by heart and revolutionary by brain argues, ‘The time has changed. When I began my editorial & political life after the death of Baba Saheb Dr. Ambedkar in 1956 the people were honest and dedicated and laid their precious lives for the upliftment of the people especially the Dalits. The central and State government & judiciary was run by respectable and honest people. Court judgments were delivered on the merit of the case. Today, court judgments are heavily influenced by political leaders full of malice. Caste factor plays an apocalyptic role. ‘Not spontaneity but organization should be the mantra for victory’, Balley said. He further said, ‘there is an urgent need to knit an umbrella organization with professional revolutionaries who are always ready to function as soldiers. He snubbed numbers and wanted disciplined human beings to contain the Brahminical forces.

Political protests and demonstration have become a way of life in India largely because of failures of the policies of the Modi government. Economic distress is suffocating the life of the common man. It is seen that violence usually occurs during peaceful protests. Some social elements sneak in the public demonstrations mostly supported finally and politically by the opposition parties to defame the peaceful protesters. Clear attention is to sabotage the Dalit movement. This is what happened in the case of Dalit protesters.

Violence in any form is destructive for the health of the country. During this protest by the Dalit organizations, sharp division among the Dalit leaders is conspicuous. Baldev Raj Bhardwaj, a Dalit activist from Punjab argues, ‘Dalits are horizontally divided. Even for good cause Mayawati, BSP President did not come out to lend a helping hand to saints, leaders of Ravidassi community.  Chander Shekar Azad, a Dalit President of Bhim Army leader has been arrested along with others. The media reported more than 90 Dalit activists’ are arrested and sent to jail. The self-serving, parvenu & glutinous minions, sanctimonious feeble & cowardice Dalit leaders deserve no respect. The complacency on the part of the national Dalit leaders has further caused severe damage to the Dalit movement. Empty statements from the cozy air-conditioned bungalows made by such leaders as Mayawati, Ram Vilas Pawan is not going to serve the purpose.

Delhi is known to be a city of political hustle-bustle. There are hundreds of Ambedkar, Buddhist and Ravidass temples being run mostly by retired government employees. Bheeshampal, a staunch Ambedkarite & practicing Buddhist states, ‘The demolition of Ravidass temple is not a new thing. For the last four decades, I saw many such temples demolished by the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) to acquire land. Prevailing sharp social and political divisions among the Dalits in Delhi provide strength to the Brahminical forces to suppress and contain the Dalit communities. ‘The Delhi Development Authority (DDA) has active SCs/STs union but none of the leader has taken any initiative to deal with the matter at the initial stage. Very Sorry’, he said.I am amazed to see that lot of Delhi University professors are giving interviews to the electronic media and showing as if they are the true followers of Sant Guru Ravidass Ji but extremely sorry to say they do not have the time to sustain the movement. After getting government jobs through reservation they think they are the only leaders and they need workers to protest. Most of the Dalit teachers are alienated from the other members of the Dalit community. Their self-promotion attitude further weakened the Dalit movement.

 The majority of the Ravidassi temples in Delhi are under litigation. To my view, had Babu Jagjivan Ram, a Dalit leader in the Congress Government under Indira Gandhi demonstrated his vision at that time he would have erected a statue of Baba Saheb Dr. Ambedkar in the compound. Had there been Dr. Ambedkar statue the Supreme Court of India would have not dared to demolish the temple. What to talk of the Delhi Development Authority (DDA). See the case of RK Puram Ravidass temple, several times the RSS people tried to snatch the land but due to Dr. Ambedkar`s Statue in the compound, the RSS or any such affiliated Hindu organization did not dare till date. This is the power of the personality of world-renowned Dr Ambedkar. The chief architect of Indian Constitution.

The demolition of Sant Guru Ravidass Temple situated in Tughlabad is a crippling blow to the Dalit community at large. It is certainly going to invite political repercussion in the coming elections. This blow by the sledgehammer of the Supreme Court of India is not on the piece of land but on the minds and hearts of the Dalit community. Be vigilant! Recrimination exercise between the Central and State governments respectively have already begun to befool further the members of the Dalit community. Once again, gutter politicians will offer this or that argument to mollify the members of the Dalit community. The trifling harangue will ensue. The time has come to build up a national organization having on board dedicated, loyal, and revolutionary people to save the treasure of Dalit icons. The time is tarrying. The sooner we do it the better it will be. Indignant mischief done by abhorrent collusion of Brahminical forces cannot be mended by one day protest. It should be done on a regular basis, months after months to show the Brahminical governments that such things will not be tolerated in the future.

Dr. Rahul Kumar, Ph.D. Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi. India. He is an independent researcher and senior media columnist. His book on “Elderly Punjabis in India Diaspora” traces trajectories of Elderly Punjabi migration to U.K. He is a member of the Editorial Committee of Global Research Forum for Diaspora and Transnationalism (GRFDT) New Delhi. India. The views expressed by the author in this article are personal and does not necessarily reflect the official policy of the paper.




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