The controversy over the overnight demolition of Ambedkar Bhavan continues to gather heat. The heavy police presence in Dadar, where the building stood, is a pointer to the rising tension that now threatens to spiral into violence.
The building is the brick-and-mortar heart of Dr BR Ambedkar’s legacy, and this was where he launched his political movement from. That this crucial piece of history was destroyed in such a manner has enraged Babasaheb’s family and followers. His grandson, Prakash Ambedkar, has filed an FIR against senior members of the People’s Improvement Trust for demolishing the structure against his wishes.
It is not the aim of this editorial to say who is wrong or right about the demolition. What is more worrying is the accusation that along with the building, a large part of history has been wiped out. There are allegations that priceless artefacts were damaged during the demolition; if this is true, it is hugely unfortunate.
Those who ordered the demolition should have ensured that these pieces of history were first removed safely. Reports state that the historic printing press set up by Ambedkar in 1944 suffered heavy damage. This was the same printing press that he used to publish historic documents for the freedom movement, along with literature based on his ideology. Many said the library was also similarly damaged, and many precious books were spotted buried under the debris.
These are irreplaceable pieces of our heritage; a testament to the battles fought and sacrifices made to make our nation what it is today. One can only hope that proper care is taken to preserve this legacy, in books, papers and artefacts. If they have not been damaged, they should be removed from the structure and be kept safe until a new home is built for them.
In the midst of all this controversy, we must not forget to protect Ambedkar’s legacy. His thoughts and vision remain intact, but these pieces of his history are vulnerable. Treat them with Tender Loving Care (TLC).