Demolition of "Ambedkar Bhavan”: Historical Facts and Current Controversy!

 

Amar Khade 

On 25-06-2016, some parts of Ambedkar Bhavan situated in Dadar area of Mumbai were demolished by the current Trustees of the "The People's Improvement Trust". The said structure is under the control of "The People's Improvement Trust". In Maharashtra, the political movement among the Ambedkarites is fractured and has many factions. And the recent demolition of the "Ambedkar Bhavan" has added some more fuel to it. This controversy has divided the Ambedkarites in Maharashtra into three groups. One group has been supporting the heirs of Dr Ambedkar and the other is in support of the Trust, the third group belongs to those set of Ambedkarites who are skeptical and have their own analysis about the issue.

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Old Pamphlet by Dr.B.R Ambedkar making an appeal to princely states for the envisioned social centre for Untouchables

Chronology of the whole set of events associated with the demolition of Ambedkar Bhavan

3 December 2015: The new development plan for the land of People's Improvement Trust notified by Govt of Maharashtra signed by Chief Minister, Devendra Fadhavnis.

6 December 2015 (Death Anniversary of Dr B R Ambedkar): The Trustees of the "The People's Improvement Trust" publicly announces at Chaityabhumi regarding the new development plan for the construction of "Ambedkar Bhavan". The Trust publicly distributes pamphlets and advertises the plan on various flex banners in the stall near the Chaityabhumi area. (Chaityabhumi: The Final Resting place of the mortal remains of Dr B R Ambedkar)

14 March 2016: Notices are issued to Mr. Prakash Ambedkar and other tenants for occupying the building premises of Ambedkar Bhavan. Notices were also pasted on the notice board of the "The People's Improvement Trust".

14 April 2016: Inauguration of new, approved building plan of "The People's Improvement Trust" by Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Shri.Devendra Fadnavis and other dignitaries.

25-06-2016: Some parts of the "Ambedkar Bhavan" were demolished by the Trustees, between 2.30 am to 4.30 am.

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The Ambedkar Bhavan Issue

 

Vaibhav Wasnik

"Tyranny is defined as that which is legal for
the government but illegal for the citizenry" ~ Thomas Jefferson

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Recently, an issue that has hit at the very crux of Ambedkarite consciousness across Maharashtra (and parts of India) has been the destruction of Ambedkar Bhavan located at Dadar. This has resulted in a spat between the Ambedkar family and a faction symbolically headed by the Chief Information Officer of Maharashtra, Mr. Ratnakar Gaikwad. I have been following this issue mostly through interviews given by the concerned parties on news channels (mostly YouTube recordings) and would like to put forth my views on the issue. Mr. Ratnakar Gaikwad has made the following claims regarding the justification for the demolition:

1) It had been Ambedkar's dream to build a big center for Dalits on the land of Ambedkar Bhavan, and the trust supposedly looking after this Bhavan had decided to go ahead and build a 17 storey building on the proposed site.

2) The members of the Ambedkar family, who were supposedly owning the land (without paying any amount for electricity and other facilities) were scared that they would lose control of the prized land and were therefore not ready to hand over the land for the proposed project.

3) In order to show the supposed immoralities at play, Mr. Gaikwad showed a letter which Dr. Ambedkar had supposedly written to his son - the father of the Ambedkar brothers at the helm of this dispute. This letter talks about how Dr. Ambedkar's son, Mr. Bhimrao Ambedkar, was profiting by renting the land to shopkeepers – something which Dr. Ambedkar was seriously against, since he felt the land belonged only to the community. Mr. Ratnakar Gaikwad in his personal attacks said that Dr. Ambedkar had also claimed that progenies like Mr. Bhimrao Ambedkar were a disgrace, and that the Ambedkar brothers today are plainly following their father's footsteps.

4) Even the inspection for electrical issues was disallowed by the Ambedkar brothers and 'their goondas' in spite of the presence of a hundred policemen. He uses this and other such instances to claim that the Bhavan had become a center for goondagiri.

4) The proposed demolition of the site was advertized in widely read Marathi newspapers like Samrat, Loksatta, etc., and if there was an issue with it, then the fact that no stay order was filed against this demolition in the Indian courts, remains a question.

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Aren't Babasaheb’s Dreams Higher than a 17 Floor Ambedkar Bhavan?


Dr Nilratan Shende

 The current Trustees and Adviser of People's Improvement Trust (PIT)  have demolished Ambedkar Bhavan on 25th June 2016. This unfortunate demolition has also wrecked the glorious historical prominence associated with it. However, the demolition has not gone down well with the followers of Babasaheb and it was followed by agitations. Trustees and heirs of Babasaheb Ambedkar have been putting forth their views in support of and against the demolition.

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Allegations and counter-allegations are doing the rounds. Trustees are questioning misappropriation, inheritance rights of the three Ambedkar brothers (Prakash Ambedkar, Bhimraj Ambedkar and Anandraj Ambedkar) while heirs, followers are questioning the very intention of the demolition and the politics behind it. It has certainly divided Ambedkarite followers between two camps. Some believe that Ambedkar's heirs are creating stumbling blocks in fulfilling his vision and on the other hand, some are convinced that Babasaheb's heirs should have been given respectful treatment while taking decisions.

In this emotional, legal and moral background, this article attempts to highlight arguments of the trust on the basis of legacy of Babasaheb Ambedkar and explores if the trust adhered to the norms, in its day-to-day operations, that they swear by. Secondly, it critically looks at the issue of branding some heirs. It also proposes the way forward to address the impasse. Lastly, it enters into the larger debate of NGOization of places of social and religious importance of community leadership and community owned resources of Dalits and Buddhists.

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Massacre of Ambedkarites at Ramabai Nagar by State Machinery!

 

Amar Khade

On 11 July 1997, the Maharashtra State Reserve Police Force under Sub-Inspector Manohar Kadam, started firing on unarmed Ambedkarite protesters in Ramabai Nagar. In the police firing, 10 Ambedkarite were massacred. Their names are as follows:

(1) Sukhdev Kapadne (2) Sanjay Nikam (3) Bablu Verma (4) Anil Garud (5) Kishore Kataranwar (6) Sanjay Kamble (7) Vilas Dhodke (8) Mangesh Shivsarne (9) Aman Dhanawade (10) Kauslya Pathare.

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 State Reserve Police Force arresting protester

Nearly 26 others were wounded in this police firing.

The Background

Early on the morning of 11 July 1997, residents of Ramabai Nagar (Ghatkopar) colony found out the vandalisation and desecration of the statue of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar. The news spread like wild fire and people started to gather to protest against this unconstitutional and unlawful acts of vandalisation. A garland of footwear was placed across the neck of the statue of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar. Residents of Ramabai Nagar Colony lodged a police complaint in the Pant Nagar Police Station. Ghatkopar Highway was blocked due to the thousands of protesters. Around 7 AM, the whole stretch of Ghatkopar Highway passing through Ramabai Nagar was blocked.

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Global Day of Action against Vedanta

Foil Vedanta 

The time has come around again for our annual Global Day of Action against Vedanta at their AGM. We will bring the defiant energy of communities fighting (and winning) against Vedanta around the world to London! From pollution affected communities of Zambia who won their 9 years battle in their Supreme Court, and now won the right to have their case heard in Britain, to the indigenous Dongria Kond who are now demanding the dismantling of their refinery in Lanjigarh after winning their case in the Supreme Court of India (see below for more). 

Parallel demonstrations are already planned in Zambia and India on the 4th August for this Global Day of Action and questions raised by the communities will be asked inside the AGM meeting.

foil vedanya

Displaying FV AGM Poster 2016.jpg

Displaying FV AGM Poster 2016.jpg

Please join our Facebook event page if you can come to London on 5th August. Poster also attached. PLEASE SPREAD THIS INFO FAR AND WIDE to like minded groups and individuals with anti-neocolonial agenda!

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Demand for Revoking of Suspension Order of Prof. Guru

 

Prof. B .P  Mahesh Chandra Guru had made critical comments on the role of Rama in human rights protection when he delivered a talk in January 2015 at Academic Staff College, University of Mysore. He had ridiculed the behavior of Rama when he sent Sita to forest mercilessly and neglected his own children. It was indeed a matter of freedom of speech and expression. Mr.Ravishankar, President of Karunada Sene, an outsider had registered a complaint at the behest of Hindu fundamentalists against Prof. Guru under IPC section 295A which deals with hurting the religious sentiments. In fact, Prof. Guru had not hurt anybody's religious sentiments. In another occasion, Prof.Guru had stated that Bhagavadgita was a symbol of inequality and called upon the people to follow the Constitution of India which aims at creating a welfare state.

mahesh guru

Another member of Vishwa Hindu Parishat had filed a complaint under IPC section 295A. Prof. Guru had appeared before the IV Addl. I Civil Judge and JMFC, Mysore after receiving summons along with an advocate and surety. The court had objected to absence of Prof.Guru after issue of two summons. In fact, Prof.Guru had not received the summons and appeared for the hearing on 17-06-2016. The court could have granted bail since he explained the reasons for not attending the court. Unfortunately, he was subjected to judicial custody during June 17-24, since the court had not given bail. He was granted bail in respect of these two cases on 22-06-2016 and 24-06-2016 respectively by the court of law. The University of Mysore has taken the issue of judicial custody as the basis for suspension. In the suspension order the Competent Authority has also raised another irrelevant issue of my criticism of the style of functioning of Prime Minister, HRD Minister and the degradation of the post of Vice Chancellor in other Universities. Prof. Guru had made fair comments with a view to facilitate healthy public debate on these significant issues in accordance with the thoughts and deeds of Ambedkar, Lohia, Periyar, Kuvempu and other noble scholars and statesmen. He had not used derogatory and foul language on the present Vice Chancellor of University of Mysore. He had also issued the most suitable clarification to this issue on 24-03-2016, to the University of Mysore. Recently, the Registrar of Mysore University has stated in The Hindu and other leading newspapers dated 24-06-2016 that the suspension can be revoked only after Prof.Guru secures the bail and is released from judicial custody which is not a punishment.

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Why Upper Caste Hindus & Muslims Cannot Become Sweepers

 

Deepak Kumar

deepak kumar 1.0In Gujarat, on the 25th of June 2016, an NGO called 'Human Development and Research Centre' (HDRC) attempted to problematize and eradicate the social stigma on the untouchables who work as sweepers. But this initiative was welcomed with stone-throwing by the so-called upper castes1. This is the real face of Hinduism and its worst politics of DOs and DON'Ts.

The upper castes like Brahmins, Rajputs, Patels and Sunni Awami Forum objected to this act. It is unfortunate to understand the logic of the Sunni Awami Forum, that Saiyads cannot do sweeper jobs for they are believed to be the direct descendents of Prophet Muhammad. This is the perfect example of the real and ugly face of upper castes showing their higher status in society, in the belief that they were born to rule society, not to serve it. Further, NSUI, a political wing of the Congress party, by hurling stones on the banner of the NGO, also showed the true intentions of the Congress party and that they are followers of Gandhi

The hierarchy inherent in Hinduism has two aspects, first is the politics of rights (Dos) and duties (Don'ts) that decrease from upper to lower castes, and the second is the politics of rights (Don't) and duties (only Dos) that increase from lower to upper castes. In the caste system, the upper castes have all kinds of power, privileges, immunity to do whatever they want to do. They have the right to acquire reputation, education, wealth and spirituality. They also feel they have the right to exploit others as they think fit.

In the Brahmanical Hindu order, the upper castes are free to do whatever they want to do, they have derived absolute fundamental rights from Hindu religion which is essentially based on discrimination among human beings by birth. The lower castes or untouchables do not have these absolute rights from religion, they are supposed to only perform their duty towards the upper castes.

It is unfortunate and ridiculous that on one the hand Hinduism preaches that we are equal and there is no casteism in Hinduism and every individual is free to do their occupation as he/she wishes to do. On the other hand, they force dalits to remain in their age-old professions.

Read more...

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