The sporadic incidents of violence were witnessed in Punjab as the protests and demonstrations, against the demolition of Guru Ravidas temple in New Delhi’s in Tughlaqabad village, brought the state to a standstill.
Not only the vehicular traffic and train movement were affected, the educational institutions and business establishments also remained closed in many parts of the State, which has the highest concentration of Dalits, including Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur, Kaurthala, among others.
The protestors, demanding that the ‘demolished’ temple must be restored, declared that in case that would not done, the protests would continue across the country in the coming days.
The bandh call, given by the All India Adi-Dharm Mission Khuralgarh Sahib and Sadhu Samaj Samperdaye, received a good response in the Doaba region of the state, which has the high concentration of the dalits — Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur, Kapurthala and Phagwara — where commercial establishments remained shut.
The protesters, including workers from the Bahujan Samaj Party, the Sant Samaj and the Bhim Army, sat on dharna on the state highways, including those leading to Amritsar, Hoshiarpur, Ludhiana, Nakodar and Pathankot, blocking these roads.
Four youngsters were wounded in a clash between the shopkeepers and the protestors in Mukerian after they were forcing them to keep their shops closed. The police has to resort to firing after the two sides started pelting stones at each other.
In Ludhiana, the commercial hub of Chaura Bazaar wore a deserted look. Heavy deployment of police was carried out on the crucial Ludhiana-Jalandhar highway to avoid any untoward incident. A large number of protesters blocked the highway that caused massive traffic jams in the industrial city.
In another incident, the protesters damaged a car near Bidhipur railway crossing near Kartarpur.In Hoshiarpur, the protests turned violent when the agitators entered the premises of two factories that were not closed in Rahimpur area.
Some of the sections of the factory were damaged by the protesters and the unit was forcibly shut. Eyewitnesses stated that heavy stone pelting was done by the protesters from outside the factory when they say the gates of the unit opened. Management of the factories immediately closed the main gates to block the entry of protesters inside the unit.
Shatabdi trains to Jalandhar and Amritsar were halted by protesters sitting on railway tracks near Ludhiana. Schools and colleges remained closed in Doaba, Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur and Kapurthala.
Several politicians participated in the protest, among them Congress MLAs Sushil Rinku, Pargat Singh and former BJP minister Manoranjan Kalia. Members of Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) also joined the stir against the central government.
Thousands of members of Ravidas, Valmiki and other Dalit communities protested against the demolition on highways at Pathankot, Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur among other cities, snapping the crucial land link between the northern parts and the rest of the country for several hours.
Meanwhile, a high-powered delegation of Aam Aadmi Party, led by the Leader of Opposition in Punjab Assembly, on Tuesday met the Union Minister for Urban Development Hardeep Singh Puri in New Delhi to demand immediate restoration of the historic temple to its pristine glory and setting up the Sri Guru Ravidas Research Centre on the precincts of temple.
Cheema said that AAP did not engage itself in a cheap political gimmickry when the matter related the sensitive religious matters.
Addressing media person, Cheema severely criticized the BJP Government at the Centre for its alleged role in the sacrilegious act of dismantling the ancient temple dedicated to Sri Guru Ravidas by the Central Government-controlled Delhi Development Authority (DDA).