Ahmedabad, Aug 4: A group of activists, writers, Gandhians and former IAS and IPS officers on Wednesday opposed the Union government’s plan to `develop’ the historic Gandhi Ashram here, claiming that it will harm its sanctity.
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It was an attempt to “take over Gandhian institutions”, they said in a statement.
Among around 130 signatories to the statement were Gujarati writer Prakash Shah, historians Rajmohan Gandhi and Ramchandra Guha, musician TM Krishna, retired high court judge A P Shah, Admiral (Retd) Laxminarayan Ramdas, former IAS officer Sharad Behar, former IPS officer Julio Ribeiro, senior lawyer Anand Grover and activists Harsh Mander, Shabnam Hashmi, Yogendra Yadav and Teesta Setalvad.
The Gandhi Ashram on the banks of the Sabarmati river, also known as Sabarmati Ashram, was where Mahatma Gandhi lived between 1917 and 1930 as he led the Indian freedom struggle. It is now managed by the Sabarmati Ashram Preservation and Memorial Trust.
“We must collectively oppose any government takeover of Gandhian institutions, while ensuring that the government continues to use public money for the proper maintenance and upkeep of such institutions, in consultation with eminent Gandhians, historians and archivists from India and around the world,” the statement said.
“The present government is all set to reclaim the visual wholesomeness, tranquility and uncluttered environment of 1949 and make it a world-class tourist destination spread over 54 acres. It has announced a budget of Rs 1,200 Crores for Gandhi Ashram Memorial and Precinct Development Project,” it said, citing media reports.
“There will be new museums, an amphitheater, VIP lounge, shops, food court among other things in the newly created ‘world class’ memorial as per the newspaper reports. Reports say that the project will be under the direct supervision of the Prime Minister and the Chief Minister,” it added.
The plan “severely compromises and trivializes the sanctity and importance of the present-day Ashram and the simplicity of the Ashram will be completely lost”, the statement said.
`Hriday Kunj’, the hut where Gandhi lived with his wife Kasturba, and other historical buildings inside the Ashram will be “pushed into a corner” after the redevelopment, it claimed.
The Ashram attracts visitors from across the world even now and there is no need for a make-over, it said, adding that “the most authentic monument of Gandhi and our freedom struggle will be lost forever to vanity and commercialization” if the project went through.
Categories: India News