No Caste in Our Syllabus, Vandalism at Ambedkar House: It’s a Sad Day For Babasaheb Ambedkar’s India

Social Commentary

No Caste in Our Syllabus, Vandalism at Ambedkar House: It’s a Sad Day For Babasaheb Ambedkar’s India

Illustration: Reynold Mascarenhas

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.”

Hopefully, with both political and public will behind them, Mumbai Police will be able to quickly apprehend the offenders.