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Physical assault on Dalit activists for protesting temple demolition

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Dalit Protestors and Human Rights Defenders

New Delhi


HRDA has issued an urgent appeal to the National Human Rights Commission of India on 03 September regarding the physical assault on Dalit human rights defenders who were protesting against the demolition of a temple in New Delhi and illegal arrests of Dalit human rights defenders by Delhi police while holding a peaceful protest against the demolition of 60 years old temple on August 10, 2019.

On August 10, 2019, the 60- year-old temple structure and removed the statue of Ravidas, a fifteenth-century saint and poet revered by the Dalit community, located in Tughlakabad, New Delhi, was demolished by the Delhi Development Authority (DDA). As a proponent of social justice, Ravidas is revered by the Indian Dalit community, who came together in large numbers to demand for a temple in the same place to be built. Members from 36 Dalit communities under the banner of Akhil Bharatiya Sant Shiromani Guru Ravidas Mandir Sanyukta Sanrakhshan Samiti jointly campaigned against the demolition of the temple. Organisations under this body include All India Ambedkar Mahasabha (AIAM), Ravidasia Diaspora Community, Bhim Army and the Akhil Bhartiya Ravidasia Dharm Sangathan.

On August 21, 2019, tens of thousands of persons belonging to the Dalit community members came in from several states in India with the demand of rebuilding the temple at the specific plot. The protest route was from Ramlila Maidan towards the place where the demolished temple, and enroute, at 7 PM without prior warning, Delhi Police used brutal force with lathis and teargas to disperse protestors, and also fired bullets into the air. Around 100 persons including Dalit human rights defender Mr. Chandrashekhar Azad were arrested on charges of rioting, unlawful activities, assaulting public servants, damaging public property and causing injury to people under Section 147,  149, 186, 353, 332 of the Indian Penal Code registered at Govindpuri police station, New Delhi. Several protestors were also badly injured.


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