Punjab parties want Centre's intervention to end Ravidas temple row

New Delhi, Aug 29 (IANS) The demolition of 500-year-old Ravidas temple in Tughlaqabad has become a major political issue in Punjab as an agitated Ravidasia community, which holds significant influence, particularly in the Doaba region, has sought intervention of the state government.

Punjab has one of the highest schedule caste population in the country. The massive unrest in the community led Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Shiromani Akali Dal president Sukhbir Badal had a meeting with Union Home Minister Amit Shah. The Punjab leaders have sought Centre's intervention in the matter even as the community has staged protests in several parts of the state.

The community claim that Ravidas temple in Delhi has a historic significance. The community wants to build the temple at the same spot where the structure was demolished on court orders. The followers of Guru Ravi Das are known as Ravidasia in Punjab. They form more than 30 percent of the population in the state and have considerable clout in political parties. The influential Valmiki Samaj are the followers of Guru Ravi Das and the temple in Tughlaqabad is claimed to have been built during Sikander Lodhi's rule in Delhi in the 15th century. The significant of the temple for the community is the fact that Guru Ravi Das had spent three days here.

Apart from SAD (Badal), which is in opposition, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has also sought intervention of Urban Development Minister Hardeep Singh Puri. The Punjab government has held meetings with the community leaders to find a peaceful resolution of the issue.

The Doaba region of Punjab has one of the highest concentration of Schedule Caste population in the country. The area between Sutlej and Beas rivers has many "deras" (spiritual community centres) including Sach Khand Ballan which alone has more than 20 lakh followers.

--IANS

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