THE Bombay High Court Friday prevented occupants of Ambedkar Bhavan and their supporters from holding a shramdaan, or the exercise to restore the demolished structure. On the plea of the trustees, the HC asked the parties to maintain status quo or face action by the Mumbai police commissioner.
Justice S J Kathawalla was hearing the plea of The People’s Improvement Trust (TPIT), which manages the Ambedkar Bhavan in Dadar. It had sought a stay on the proposed restoration.
“Everyone should maintain status quo,” said Justice Kathawalla while directing all stakeholders to abide by the direction till further orders. The Commissioner of Police was directed to take action against those who would defy the order by making any alteration to the structure.
The building housed the Buddha Bhushan printing press started by Dr B R Ambedkar. The building and the press were demolished last month with members of the trust stating that it would be replaced by a grand 17-storey Ambedkar Bhavan, leading to protests by various Dalit groups, including the family members of Babasheb.
Anandraj Ambedkar, grandson of Dr Ambedkar, lodged an FIR with Bhoiwada police against former IAS officer and State Information Commissioner Ratnakar Gaikwad and trustee of the People’s Improvement Trust, in connection with the demolition.
TPIT, however, informed the court on Friday that they were only following BMC’s directions.
A week ago, Rajya Sabha MP and general secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) Sitaram Yechury, Mumbai Congress chief Sanjay Nirupam, AIMIM legislator from Byculla Waris Pathan, Shiv Sena legislator Neelam Gorhe, among other leaders across party lines demanded action against the demolition. President of the JNU Students’ Union Kanhaiya Kumar was also present at the rally, which saw 20,000 protesters.