Mumbai Clogged as Sea of Protestors Oppose Ambedkar Bhavan Wipeout

Thousands gathered outside the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus to protest the demolition of the Ambedkar Bhavan.

2 min read
Thousands gather to protest Ambedkar Bhawan demolition outside the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus. (Photo: Ashish Dikshit)

On Tuesday, huge crowds thronged to the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus in Mumbai, even as the skies bore down on them with rain.

The crowd had gathered to protest the demolition of Dr BR Ambedkar’s office in Dadar, in June. The protest was led by Ambedkar’s grandson, Prakash Ambedkar.

The Quint was in the midst of all the action, reporting live.

Various factions of the Republican Party of India gathered to protest the demolition of the historic Ambedkar Bhavan.

The protesters gathered in thousands, clogging the southern part of the city, and making the movement of vehicles impossible.

Our reporter on the ground suggests avoiding any kind of road transport, and taking only the suburban rail network during the evening rush hour.

What Is the Background of the Protest?

Ambedkar’s office in Dadar dates back to 1930, and is the site from where he launched his political movement. It had been demolished in June by senior members of an organisation called People’s Improvement Trust.

Ambedkar’s grandson, Prakash filed an FIR at the Bhoiwada police station, alleging that the demolition was conducted against his wishes. On the other hand, the PIT’s chief argued that the demolition of the sprawling office in Dadar was necessary because the building had become dilapidated and they wished to redevelop the land into a 17-storey structure to be christened Dr Ambedkar Bhawan.

The complex under question had two buildings: one is allegedly Prakash Amebdkar’s office and the other is the site from where People’s Improvement Trust operated. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) stated that they had nothing to do with the demolition.

Kanhayia Kumar and Slogans of ‘Azaadi

The JNU Student’s Union leader was also at the protest, raising slogans of ‘azaadi’. He addressed the gathering while the crowd cheered him on.

Cries for Ambedkar Reach the Rajya Sabha

The Centre on Tuesday assured that it would speak to the Maharashtra government to get the demolished Ambedkar Bhavan at Dadar in Mumbai restored as a memorial. The assurance came after opposition parties in Rajya Sabha vociferously demanded rebuilding of the heritage building.

It is a serious issue. We will talk to the state government and attempt to get it restored as a memorial. We have taken cognisance of the demolition.
Thawar Chand Gehlot, Minister for Social Justice

Sitaram Yechury (CPI-M) raised the issue through a zero hour mention.

Yechury said the state government and the municipality have not just demolished a heritage structure, but a building that represents the “heritage of freedom movement, a building that represents heritage of the dalit movement.”

The building was built by BR Ambedkar out of his own money to provide a place for ostracised Dalits at that time. It also housed a printing press for publishing Dalit literature.

CM Devendra Fadnavis Orders an Enquiry

The Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has taken cognisance of the protests, and the demands made eralier in the Rajya Sabha and has reportedly been compelled to order a probe into the demolition.

By the evening, the crowd seemed to dissipate even though traffic was still predicted.

(With inputs from PTI)

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