Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment and RPI (A) leader Ramdas Athawale has termed the move by a United Kingdom council to close down a memorial dedicated to B R Ambedkar as “an insult to India”.
The Camden council in London recently turned down an application filed by Indian authorities to turn the four-storey property into an official memorial for Ambedkar and ruled that it should be maintained as a residential complex in view of complaints from local residents regarding the number of visitors in recent years.
The 2050-sq ft property at 10 King Henry’s Road at London’s Primrose Hill is where Ambedkar lived between 1921-22 while studying at the London School of Economics. The Maharashtra government purchased the property in a 3.1 million pound deal in 2015, a few months after which it was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It was converted into a memorial and thrown open to the public two years later. The Maharashtra government through the law firm Singhania & Co is reportedly appealing against the council’s move on September 24.
Athawale told The Indian Express, “They ruled over India for over 150 years and many of the statues they installed back then are still all over the country. How then can they object to us having a memorial for the architect of the Indian Constitution in London? This is a serious issue and I will take it up with the Minister for External Affairs and the Prime Minister who inaugurated the memorial. If need be, the issue will be raised in UK Parliament.”
In reply to the application made by Indian authorities, the Camden council noted, “The four-storey property does not have permission to be used as a museum and must be returned to residential use.” The report suggested that an alternative site could be found for the purpose since “Dr Ambedkar lived there for a comparatively short time”.
Earlier this week, Dalit and human rights organisations held protests at London’s Parliament Square against the move.