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Land ‘captured’ for Ambedkar memorial in Mumbai


Mumbai : Nearly 1,000 activists of the Republican Sena, a Dalit party, Tuesday broke police barricades and “captured” a mill compound in Dadar in central Mumbai, demanding allotment of the land for constructing a memorial for B.R. Ambedkar, police and eyewitnesses said.

Republican Sena chief and grandson of B.R. Ambedkar, Anandraj Ambedkar, said the Dalits have been pursuing with the Maharashtra government the allotment of the land, which is under the control of the central government.

“However, neither the state or central government has initiated any steps in this regard, displaying their bias against us,” Anandraj Ambedkar said.

Republican Sena is one of the 15-plus factions of the Republican Party of India (RPI) that was founded in 1958 and later fragmented.

Anandraj Ambedkar is the younger brother of Prakash Ambedkar, who leads his own faction of the RPI.

Anandraj Ambedkar has apparently taken advantage of the differences to come into the limelight.

“We have occupied this mill land and shall immediately take steps to construct an international memorial for Babasaheb Ambedkar, a ‘bhikshu vihar’ for Buddhist monks, and other facilities for his followers who come here all round the year,” Anandraj Ambedkar told media persons.

He vowed that the activists “would not vacate” the premises and urged the central and state governments to declare and allot the land for the memorial, near the Chaitya Bhoomi.

B.R. Ambedkar, who mentored the drafting of the Indian constitution, died Dec 6, 1956 and his mortal remains were consigned at Chaitya Bhoomi, which is revered as a pilgrimage site by his followers.

The move by the Republican Sena followed on the heels of senior Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Vijay Kamble who started an indefinite hunger strike near Chaitya Bhoomi for the same demand Saturday.

Kamble, who heads the Samajik Samata Manch of the NCP, said there are plans to develop a university for social justice dedicated to B.R. Ambedkar, an international level memorial, a library, a hostel and ‘bhikshu vihar’ on the 12-acre site.

Over 500,000 followers of the leader have arrived in Mumbai over the past couple of days for his death anniversary functions Tuesday.

Police have deployed tight security all over Mumbai for B.R. Ambedkar’s death anniversary functions, Muharram and the Babri Masjid demolition anniversary Tuesday.