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Victory for local Dalits: London authorities 'agree' to turn Ambedkar House into Museum

By Our Representative
There is good news on the Ambedkar House in London. While the permission to convert this house into a museum was refused by the local authorities, thanks to the Maharashtra government, which assisted a number people in London appeal against the decision, after a lengthy public inquiry, it has become possible to convince the authorities and the permission has been granted. Now the house has officially become Ambedkar Museum.
During the Public Inquiry Hearing in September and October 2019 into the Appeal against London Borough of Camden’s rejection of an application for a memorial dedicated to Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar at 10 King Henry’s Road, the Council argued it didn’t want to give up the property’s residential floor space.
They also argued Dr Ambedkar’s status wasn’t well enough known in Britain to be a person of wider interest. The Chair of the Public Inquiry Chair, Inspector Keri Williams, and Robert Jenrick, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, were persuaded otherwise by evidence and testimonies in support of the case for the memorial.
They gave their seal of approval on March 12, 2020. Ambedkarites in the UK and around the world were jubilant; they celebrated the good news. Santosh Dass President of the Federation of Ambedkarite and Buddhist Organisations UK (FABO UK), had first proposed to the Government of Maharashtra the purchase and refurbishment of the then-dilapidated house’s purchase she visited. 10 King Henry’s Road was where Dr Ambedkar lived in 1920-21.
She responds:
“I’m thrilled. This is very a good day for equality and dignity. My dream was to create the first memorial outside of India to Babasaheb Ambedkar at a place where he lived. He was a giant of social equality and human rights. That dream is coming true. Let’s all celebrate this champion! Now we have to finish our work setting up the museum.
“I look forward to ever more people learning how extraordinary Dr Ambedkar was and about the far-reaching social reforms he set in train. I’m grateful to Mr Steven Gaztowicz QC and to Dr William Gould for presenting our case so magnificently, the Government of Maharashtra – particularly Mr Rajkumar Badole for all his support since 2014 –, the India High Commission and in particular Her Excellency Mrs Ruchi Ghanashyam and the HC lawyer Janeevan John at Singhania & Co, and to Mr Jenrick for his expedient intervention.” 
Arun Kumar, General Secretary of FABO UK, adds, “It’s great news for all followers and admirers of Dr Ambedkar. A great burden is lifted from our minds.”
Residents from the neighbourhood, Ambedkarites and equality-focused organisations voiced strong support for the memorial prior to, and at the Hearing
William Gould, professor of India studies at the University of Leeds and one of the three key witnesses at the Inquiry alongside Santosh Dass and Jamie O’Sullivan, a Town Planning expert, said:
“Dr Ambedkar is one of world’s key figures in the development of 20th century liberal democracy and, via his work, the vibrant political culture of India. Its great social document – the nation’s Constitution – links back to Britain and British history. It is only right that we have a memorial. I’m honored to have contributed to getting Dr Ambedkar recognized here in the UK amongst circles that first challenged his significance.”
Ravi Kumar, General Secretary of the Anti-Caste Discrimination Alliance, who had lobbied Mr Williams, and Mr Jenrick, said: 
“Dr Ambedkar’s vision of a more equal and discrimination-free society has inspired and shaped our campaign to outlaw Caste-based discrimination in the UK. He’s on par Martin Luther King Jr and Dr Nelson Mandela.” Residents from the neighbourhood, Ambedkarites and equality-focused organisations voiced strong support for the memorial prior to, and at the Hearing. Moving and powerful contributions were made at the two-day Public Hearing by Sally Roach, Alex Sunshine, Bonnie Garnett (better known as the Canadian folksinger Bonnie Dobson), the writer Ken Hunt, Satpal Muman of the Ambedkar International Mission, Raj Banger of Kanshi TV, and the Ven Bhante Vijithavansa.

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