By Arré Bench Jul. 08, 2020
Mumbai's Rajgruha, which houses the Ambedkar Museum, and was the home of reformer and chief architect of the Indian Constitution, BR Ambedkar, was vandalised. While the damage caused was not extensive, there are concerns that the act could trigger widespread protests among the Dalit community.
On Tuesday, July 7, unidentified intruders vandalised the historic bungalow Rajgruha in Dadar, Mumbai. Rajgruha houses the Ambedkar Museum, and was the home of reformer and the chief architect of the Indian Constitution, BR Ambedkar.
Thankfully, the damage caused by the vandals was not extensive. The flower pots in the grounds were disturbed, stones were thrown at windows, and the CCTV cameras were damaged. After the incident was reported by the caretakers at Rajgruha, Mumbai Police has set up security around the site and launched an investigation to find the culprits.
Two persons threw stones on glass windows, and damaged CCTV cameras and potted plants at Rajgruha.https://t.co/jC1jYWi6Lr
— Deccan Chronicle (@DeccanChronicle) July 8, 2020
The Ambedkar Museum on the ground floor of the three-storeyed building is where artefacts from Ambedkar’s life are kept on display. His books, portraits, and even his ashes are preserved at Rajgruha. The building also still serves as a residence for Ambedkar’s family, including his daughter-in-law and his three grandsons.
— TOI Mumbai (@TOIMumbai) July 8, 2020
The police have begun a search for the culprits, who remain unidentified at present. Reports suggest at least two individuals were involved. An FIR has been registered against unknown persons. A report in Indian Express states that an officer from Matunga Police Station blamed the incident on “drug peddlers” in the locality.
— Mumbai Mirror (@MumbaiMirror) July 8, 2020
After news of the vandalism began to spread, Mumbai Mirror reported news of Dalits and Ambedkarites making their way to Rajgruha. Given Ambedkar’s status as a social reformer and reverence among the Dalit community, an act of vandalism and disrespect toward him could trigger widespread protests. BR Ambedkar’s grandson, Prakash Ambedkar, who is also the founder of the Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi political party, thanked the police for their swift response and asked Ambedkar’s followers to remain calm.
राज्यातील सर्व आंबेडकरवाद्यांनी शांतता राखावी. ‘राजगृह’ आपल्या सर्वांसाठी आदराचे ठिकाण आहे. माझे आपल्या सर्वांना आवाहन आहे की, आपण शांतता राखावी. pic.twitter.com/P31MTvJhb4
— Prakash Ambedkar (@Prksh_Ambedkar) July 7, 2020
Meanwhile, the act of vandalism has also attracted the attention of Maharashtra state government. Maharashtra’s Home Minister Anil Deshmukh made assurances that strict action would be taken against the culprits. Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray also said that the state government would not tolerate the transgression, declaring Rajgruha was “a spiritual place for not only Ambedkarites but the entire society.”
“This building is a spiritual place for not only Ambedkarites but the entire society.” Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray says strict action will be taken against culprits who vandalised Ambedkar’s house in Mumbai. https://t.co/RfgDAtxzex
— HuffPost India (@HuffPostIndia) July 8, 2020
Hopefully, with both political and public will behind them, Mumbai Police will be able to quickly apprehend the offenders.