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Bhim Army Threatens to Call for 'Bharat Bandh' if Ravidas Temple Issue Not Resolved in 10 Days

Chandrashekhar Azad and over 90 protesters were detained on Wednesday night on charges of rioting and unlawful assembly following a violent protest in Tughlakabad area over the demolition of the temple.

PTI

Updated:August 23, 2019, 7:59 PM IST
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Bhim Army Threatens to Call for 'Bharat Bandh' if Ravidas Temple Issue Not Resolved in 10 Days
Members of Bhim Army during a rally to protest against the demolition of Ravidas Mandir in Tughlakabad on the orders of the Supreme Court, in New Delhi, Aug 21, 2019. (PTI Photo)
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New Delhi: The Bhim Army on Friday threatened to call for a nationwide shutdown if the issue of Ravidas temple was not resolved within 10 days.

The outfit said its supporters will observe August 25 as 'International Dhikkar Diwas' and will burn the effigies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi protesting "police atrocities on their leader Chandrashekhar Azad and 95 others".

Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad and over 90 protesters were detained on Wednesday night on charges of rioting and unlawful assembly following a violent protest in Delhi's Tughlakabad area over the demolition of the temple by the Delhi Development Authority.

"If the Guru Ravidas Temple is not built within 10 days, we will call for a Bharat Bandh," national chief general secretary of Bhim Army Kamal Singh Walia said, adding Azad will not seek bail till the time the other protesters, who were arrested along with him, are not released.

Azad and 95 others, arrested on charges of rioting and unlawful assembly, has been sent to judicial custody for 14 days.

The Bhim Army had called a press conference at the Indian Women's Press Corps on Friday to share its version on the arrest of Azad and other protesters but the IWPC cancelled the event.

"The IWPC said in an email that we do not permit religious or political functions or programmes here. Bhim Army is not a political or religious organisation. This issue (demolition of the temple) is a constitutional one. Exercising your constitutional right is not a religious issue," said Mahmood Parcha, the counsel for Azad and Bhim Army protesters.

A representative from IWPC said, "We do not permit religious or political functions. There was miscommunication from their side."

Bhim Army representatives spoke to reporters outside the IWPC.

"They have cancelled it. Such a step is being taken to scuttle the rights of our organisation which is raising the voice for the rights of scheduled castes," a representative said.

"It was a peaceful protest. Some mischievous elements, which we suspect were planted by governmental agencies and police created this ruckus. This was their attempt to spoil the unprecedented support that we got. None of the members of Bhim Army was carrying sticks," he said.

Tension prevailed in the Tughlakabad area in south Delhi after a protest by Dalits turned violent on Wednesday, prompting police to resort to "mild lathi-charge" and use tear gas to disperse the crowd, an official said.

The protesters turned violent when police did not allow them to proceed to the site of the temple demolished by the DDA. According to police, the protesters set on fire two motorcycles and vandalised cars and a police vehicle. A few policemen were injured in the incident.

The protesters have been demanding that the government hand over the plot of land in Tughlaqabad to the community and rebuild the temple.

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