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