Bhim Army warns of movement if leaders not freed

Bareilly, Aug 25 (IANS) The Bhim Army has threatened a mass movement against the Narendra Modi government if their top leaders, Chandra Shekhar and Vinay Ratan, were not released immediately.

Chandra Shekhar and the other Bhim Army leaders were arrested on August 21 in Delhi while protesting against the demolition of the Sant Ravidas temple.

The Bhim Army's Bareilly unit in-charge, Ajay Pradhan, said that they would take to the streets across western Uttar Pradesh if their leaders were not released immediately and denied permission to reconstruct the temple.

Agitated Bhim Army workers met the Additional District Magistrate (City), Mahendra Kumar Singh, and handed over a memorandum that was addressed to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.

Pradhan claimed that the Modi government was shielding behind the Supreme Court order and trying to hurt the image of their gods and goddesses.

The latest move of demolishing the temple shows the Centre's apathy towards the Dalit community, he added.

The Delhi Development Authority had demolished the temple at Tughlaqabad on August 10 following a Supreme Court order. A large group of Dalit activists then went on a rampage on August 21 and at least 80 cars were damaged during the ensuing melee. A few locals were also injured.

After the incident, the Delhi Police arrested more than 80 people, including Chandra Shekhar.

The apex court had stated that any attempt to politicize its order will be viewed as "contempt of court".

However, the matter has taken a political turn with various opposition parties voicing support for the protesters.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on August 22 tweeted: "We are shocked that the Guru Ravidas temple in Delhi was demolished and understand his supporters' anguish, as the Guru had himself visited and stayed there. We have great respect for Sant Ravidas. The shrine symbolizes the Dalits' struggle for their rights and must be rebuilt."

The Delhi government has also passed a resolution to rebuild the temple and asked the Centre to provide land for the same.

--IANS

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