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Hours before Medha Patkar’s fast, MP govt dismantles Gandhi Samadhi in Barwani

Officials take away urns containing ashes of Mahatma Gandhi, Kasturba Gandhi, and his secretary Mahadev Desai, bring them back amid protests.

india Updated: Jul 27, 2017 13:50 IST
Neeraj Santoshi
Neeraj Santoshi
Hindustan Times, Bhopal
Madhya Pradesh,Mahatma Gandhi,Gandhi
Residents of Barwani and Narmada Bachao Andolan activists raise slogans against the post-midnight dismantling of Gandhi Samadhi for relocation, on Thursday. (Mujeeb Faruqui/HT Photo)

Barely hours before Narmada Bachao Aandolan leader Medha Patkar started a hunger strike at Rajghat, the Gandhi Samadhi on the banks of Narmada river in Barwani, the district administration dismantled the structure for relocation.

Officials took away three urns containing the ashes of Mahatma Gandhi, his wife Kasturba Gandhi, and his secretary Mahadev Desai during the dismantling operation carried out after Wednesday midnight.

“The kalash (urns) were brought back amid protests,” Patkar, who has been at the forefront of agitations against dams on Narmada river, and had announced her fast for proper rehabilitation of people affected by the projects, said on Thursday.

Gandhian Kashinath Trivedi had brought the ashes and set up the samadhi at Barwani, about 350 km southwest of state capital Bhopal, in 1965.

With the gates of Sardar Sarovar Dam in Gujarat closed last month, there are concerns that many areas in four Madhya Pradesh districts — Barwani, Khargone, Dhar and Alirajpur — will be submerged under Narmada waters.

This necessitated the samadhi’s relocation, said a government official. Patkar, however, objected to the manner in which the post-midnight dismantling was carried out. “Shifting Gandhiji’s samadhi without the knowledge of the locals and without following due procedure is illegal and disrespectful towards Mahatma Gandhi. It was done deliberately a few hours ahead of my fast. We protested and the urns containing ashes have been brought back.”

Barwani collector Tejaswi S Naik said the urns containing the ashes will be relocated at Kukri village, which is within 2 km of the present site. (Mujeeb Faruqui/HT Photo)

She said a plot earlier allotted for relocating the samadhi had been used partly for building houses for people affected by a dam project in Bilkheda. “Now, it is being said the samadhi will be set up elsewhere. They should have constructed a proper place for it first, taken the help of the locals and relocated it with due respect,” she added.

Barwani collector Tejaswi S Naik said, “The urns containing the ashes will be relocated at Kukri village, which is within 2 km of the present site. Later, a grand memorial is planned as per the wish of locals. The samadhi has to be relocated as the area faces the possibility of being submerged.”

First Published: Jul 27, 2017 13:19 IST