Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Wednesday expressed shock over reports of vandalism at Rajgruha, Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar’s residence at Dadar in Mumbai, and said those responsible for it would not be spared. The state government also announced that the structure would henceforth be under round-the-clock police security.
On Tuesday, an unidentified person had trespassed into the three-story residence at Hindu Colony and damaged some flower pots and window panes. Police have registered an FIR on charges of criminal trespass and causing damage under sections of the Indian Penal Code at Matunga police station Wednesday on the complaint of Bhimrao Ambedkar, grandson of Dr Ambedkar. A man has also been detained in the case, police said.
Calling Rajgruha a place of reverence for all, Thackeray said he has instructed the police to take strict action against the offender. In a tweet on Wednesday, the CM said, “It is a place of pilgrimage for every person in Maharashtra.”
राजगृहाच्या आवारात घुसून काही गुंडांनी धुडगूस घातला हे धक्कादायक आहे. ही वास्तू फक्त आंबेडकरी जनतेची नाही तर संपूर्ण समाजाचे श्रद्धास्थान आहे. आपला ग्रंथखजीना डाॅ. बाबासाहेब आंबेडकर यांनी या वास्तुत जपून ठेवला. महाराष्ट्रातील तमाम जनतेचे हे तीर्थक्षेत्रच आहे.
— CMO Maharashtra (@CMOMaharashtra) July 8, 2020
Dr B R Ambedkar had completed the construction of Rajgruha in 1933 and stayed there with his family. After his death in 1956, the house was converted into a memorial. The ground-floor museum, which houses over 50,000 books that Dr Ambedkar had collected in his lifetime, has been closed to the public ever since the lockdown was announced.
Currently, Dr Ambedkar’s grandsons — Anandrao, Bhimrao and Prakash — and his daughter-in-law stay in the heritage building.
In the police complaint, Bhimrao had told police that on Monday he had noticed a mentally unstable person loitering on the pavement outside his residence. Having also noticed the man outside his home once before, Bhimrao had asked him what he was doing there. On being questioned, Bhimrao told police, the man had walked away in anger. In his complaint, Bhimrao had described the suspect to be aged between 25 and 30 years, of a slim physique and dark complexion and wearing a blue T-shirt and jeans.
According to police, CCTV footage obtained from the spot shows a man entering the building’s main gate between 5 pm and 5.30 pm on Tuesday and upending eight-10 large flower pots. The man is purportedly seen walking out of the gate and then returning with stones that he hurls at the windows before fleeing, police said.
Soon after the incident, several Ambedkarites, activists, politicians and senior police officials rushed to the spot. On Tuesday night, Prakash Ambedkar released a video message appealing for calm. “The police are carrying out a thorough investigation. Please remain calm and do not gather at the building,” he told supporters.
On Wednesday, state Home Minister Anil Deshmukh said the government had taken serious note of the incident. Following a meeting with Cabinet ministers on Wednesday afternoon, he said, “We have decided in the Cabinet meeting that Rajgurha will henceforth be given round-the-clock police security.”