Thousands of B.R Ambedkar supporters have gathered in South Bombay today to protest against the demolition of Ambedkar Bhavan in Dadar on June 26. According to initial estimates, at least 10,000 supporters are present in South Bombay as of 4 pm.
At the forefront of the protest are supporters of B.R Ambedkar’s grandson Prakash Ambedkar and President of Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union Kanhaiya Kumar. Mumbai Congress President, Sanjay Nirupam, is also participating in the protest.
The protest began at 1 pm today from Rani Bagh, Byculla (east) and is expected to culminate at Azad Maidan. Police officials are currently stationed at every nook and corner, trying to divert the traffic to and from Azad maidan.
Those opting to travel via road to or from South Bombay should brace themselves for heavy traffic and delays. As of 5 pm, the BPT road is still accessible and should be used if possible.
Areas around CST, Byculla Bridge, JJ Flyover and Azad Maidan are completely inaccessible as of 5 pm.
Update (5:30 pm): The protest has ended and the crowd has started to disperse.
Why the protest?
On June 26, People’s Improvement Trust demolished the Ambedkar Bhavan and Buddha Bhushan Printing Press on sparking an outrage among the dalit population. Following the demolition, Dr. Ambedkar’s grandson Prakash Ambedkar had warned of a state-wide agitation if no action was taken against those responsible for it.
Two days later, a section of the dalit population had taken to the streets of Dadar demanding the arrest of Ratnakar Gaikwad, allegedly responsible for the demolition of the structure. The protest had taken a violent turn after a few shopkeepers and taxi drivers were manhandled by the supporters.
However, Mumbai BJP President Ashish Shelar maintains that the state government is not responsible for the demolition. He also stated that an inquiry has been ordered to ascertain the BMC officials responsible for the demolition and strict action will be taken against the guilty. So far, no action has been taken against any official for the demolition.
Meanwhile, the Trust maintains that the structure will be replaced by a new 17-storey storey Ambedkar Bhawan.