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Rage trumps rain at Ambedkar Bhavan protest

mumbai Updated: Jul 20, 2016 00:07 IST
Naresh Kamath
Naresh Kamath
Hindustan Times
Ambedkar Bhavan

Ambedkar supporters swarm CST junction at a rally to protest against the demolition of Ambedkar Bhavan. Bhushan Koyande/HT photos

A massive protest march organised by the Dalit outfits to protest against the demolition of Ambedkar Bhavan is likely to paralyse South Mumbai on Tuesday.

“Even we don’t want to disturb the daily routine but the government is forcing us to do so. What can we do if the government is insensitive and they are not following the due process of law?” said Anandraj Ambedkar, grandson of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar, who is one of the complainants.

The march will start from Jijamata Udhyan (Byculla Zoo) at 12 noon and proceed towards Mantralaya where the assembly session is currently in progress. However, the police department is unlikely to allow the protesters proceed beyond Azad Maidan. This means all traffic to and fro from Azad Maidan to Byculla will be diverted.

The Congress party which has decided to participate in the morcha has defended the protest saying South Mumbai will definitely be disturbed. “This was no ordinary structure as it was constructed by Dr Ambedkar, who was the architect of our constitution. It was demolished at midnight and the state government is just sitting idle doing nothing despite the anger across the country,” said Mumbai Congress President, Sanjay Nirupam, who is himself participating in the agitation.

However, Mumbai BJP President Ashish Shelar defended the state government saying that though the demolition incident was condemnable, the state had no role to play. “The state government has no role to play in the incident and it was done by the BMC. We want a thorough inquiry on this issue and suspension of the guilty BMC officials. In fact the Government has registered a FIR (First Information Report) and we are sincere in punishing the guilty,” said Shelar.

The controversy started when the trustees of the People’s Improvement Trust demolished the Ambedkar Bhavan and Buddha Bhushan Printing Press on June 26 on the plea it was a dilapidated structure. They contend that grand 17-storeyed Ambedkar Bhavan costing Rs 60 crore will come up in the said plot of land. This new Bhavan will be used as a centre for skill development and capacity buildings for the weaker sections of the society.