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Ambedkar's home waiting for national status

Late Dalit leader's grandson Prakash alleges that the State Govt is sitting on a proposal since a decade, reports Dharmendra Jore .

india Updated: Dec 06, 2006 23:18 IST

While several streets, gardens, places and a district in Uttar Pradesh has been named after Dr. B.R Ambedkar, his 72-year-old sprawling residence 'Rajagriha' in city's Hindu Colony is waiting for the government to bestow the historical place with a national memorial status 50 years after the Dalit leader's death.

Dr Ambedkar's grandson Prakash Ambedkar alleged that the State Government has put the proposal in a cold storage. "I had submitted the proposal to then Chief Minister Sharad Pawar. Please ask him why he didn't process it further," he told HT on Thursday.

Culture Minister Ashok Chavan said the government didn't have any such proposal placed before it. He refused to comment on the past.

However, sources in the mantralaya said that the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Authority has given the building a heritage one status. But the government hasn't issued a notification to this effect as yet, they added.

Even the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation doesn't have any protection plan for the structure. Fortunately, Dr Ambedkar's native residence in Ambevade in Ratnagiri district was declared as protected structure a couple of decades ago.
"I don't understand why our leaders pressurise the government to convert this historic place in a national memorial," said Samrat Ramteke, who was among hundreds of Ambedkarites who visited the house on Dr Ambedkar's 50th death anniversary on Thursday
"I've no objection to convert the place in a national memorial if all of us (including old tenants) are given alternative accommodation," said Ambedkar.

Dr Ambedkar had moved into the massive art deco three-storied house near Raja Shivaji High School in Dadar (E) in 1934. "Dr Ambedkar built this house in phases with his own money after staying for a long in the BIT Chawl in Parel," said R.G. Ruke, honorary in-charge of the Dr Ambedkar Research Centre now being run at the first floor.

Presently, some portion of the ground and first floors have been occupied by Prakash's family, while some parts of these floors and third floor have been rented out to ten families.

Ruke said the house had been a witness to Dr Ambedkar's pre-independence struggle. It once housed the statesman's finest collection of books, which were later removed to the local Siddharth College library. Now it has a collection of Ambedkar's manuscripts and hundreds of photographs that are made available to researchers on request.

Dr Ambedkar stayed in the house for 16 years before converting a larger portion of it in a hostel for the Siddharth College students. His only son Bhaiyyasaheb moved in after the hostellers shifted to new place.

"Dr Ambedkar's first wife Ramabai died here in this house while his body was kept here for the darshan before his funeral at the Chaityabhoomi," informed Ruke.

The couple's ashes are still kept in a room forbidden for the visitors.

First Published: Dec 06, 2006 23:18 IST