New Delhi, July 19 (IANS) Facing criticism from the opposition over the demolition of decades-old Ambedkar Bhavan in Mumbai, the government assured the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday that it will try to restore the building as a memorial.
“We want to say we have always respected all things related to (Bhimrao) Ambedkar. We will talk to the state government and will try to restore this building as his memorial,” Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment Thawar Chand Gehlot said in the Rajya Sabha after some members raised the issue.
The one-storeyed Ambedkar Bhavan in Mumbai, which housed a printing press started in 1944 by Ambedkar, was demolished on June 25.
Raising the issue, Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader Sitaram Yechury said: “It is not the demolition only of a heritage site. This building represents the heritage of our freedom movement. The heritage of our Dalit movement.”
He said the building represented the struggle for realising “a vision that is unfulfilled even today”.
Yechury was joined by Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati who had also raised the issue in the house on Monday.
“I raised this issue yesterday and government did not respond. This issue is being raised again. He bought the land for social activities for Dalits,” she said.
Gehlot responded immediately, stating initially that he was collecting information.
“It is true that the municipal corporation recommended it to the state government and the building was demolished. It would have been better if it was not demolished. We assure we will take action keeping in mind feelings of the house,” Gehlot said.
He said the Centre would talk to the Maharashtra government and try to restore the building as an Ambedkar memorial.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) member from Maharashtra Amar Shankar Sable, however, said the demolition was not carried out by the state government, but by People’s Improvement Trust.