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Gandhi Ashram eviction: Finally historian Guha speaks out; but ageing trustees are silent

By Rajiv Shah 
Finally, at least one expert, top historian Ramachandra Guha, has spoken out on eviction of 200 families living in the Gandhi Ashram premises. Last week, I received an email alert from a veteran academic, Ashoke Chatterjee, former director, National Institute of Design (NID), Ahmedabad, which happens to be one of the most prestigious academic institutes of India based, informing me about it. NID is one of the several top institutes founded when Jawaharlal Nehru was India’s Prime Minister.
The email alert by Chatterjee, who is also associated with several NGOs, including Centre for Social Justice and Janvakas, quotes Guha, stating how the eviction drive by the Gujarat government in order to build a hi fi Gandhi memorial reflects the challenges faced by a Trust, which is said to look after the Gandhi Ashram, especially in view of the fact it is “composed of ageing men and women, who all live in Gujarat, and thus cannot speak out for fear that they or their families will be victimized by a government known for its vindictiveness.”
While the article by Guha, published in The Telegraph, suggests this ageing factor and refusal to speak out could be the reason why “the plans as forged by Modi and his cronies” to build a Gandhi memorial “will go ahead”, he does he not say who these “ageing” people are. Sudershan Iyengar, former vice-chancellor, Gujarat Vidyapeeth? Elaben Bhatt, current chancellor, Gujarat Vidyapeeth? Kartikeya Sarabhai, who is a descendant of the well-known scientist Vikram Sarabhai family, involved in NID project? Or someone else?
Be that as it may, at least Guha has finally spoken out. This follows my blog on this site two weeks ago, where I specifically mentioned Guha’s name among others for refusing to speak out against the eviction drive. Surely, he is not one of the trustees. Nor do I know whether he has written the The Telegraph piece after I mentioned his name with a photograph, though I apprehended this to Chatterjee, wondering whether Guha’s piece was “prompted by my blog” as it was “widely read”. Chatterjee was quick to reply: “It might well have. I don’t think Ashram group has seen this. I will share it with them immediately!”
Be that as it may, I am sharing here Guha’s article "Second Assassination" – which is surely a powerful commentary on the eviction move (all his commentaries are worth reading), though devoid of any new information. The commentary comes weeks after all 200 persons who live in the Gandhi Ashram premises have already accepted and signed the government offer of Rs 40 plus 20 lakh (total Rs 60 lakh) as compensation, or an alternative house. While some have begun accepting money, others are waiting to see if they can get a good house offered by the government.

Comments

Modi is a supreme landscape designer and interior decorator . His own office in Gandhinagar was a room fit for a top corporat czar . Soon tiring of this , he got built a Swarnim Bhavan to house only Ministers . Naturally his was an exclusive floor . And offices to put the Ambanis and Tatas to shame . Gandhinagar had a redevelopment of a Central Vista project a work still in progress . And a Mahatma Mandir in 11 months . Contractors are a single agency L&T . Architect only Bimal . Mandirs destroyed in Varanasi to build an attractive approach to Kashi Vishwanath . Architect who else ? Who was the last person who destroyed Mandirs in Benaras ? Right Aurangzeb . He’s resurrected now !!!!
Central Vista existing destruction and vandalised . Architecht only one . Violates all Govt procedures .
Any further moves ? Yes , destroy the core values of Gandhi by making the Ashram a body without a soul . Exit Gandhi .
Actually Sabarmati Ashram was vandalised in the riots of 1969 . Imam Manzil burnt . Read Hamid Kureshi Ordeal by Fire . Gujarat doesn’t have much loyalty to Gandhi
Congress Govt headed by Hitendra Desai didn’t lift a finger to save the Ashram . Even though Governor Shriman Narayan desperately appealed to the IG Pavri and CM
Anonymous said…
One should get the facts right: A prime minister whose party cannot number a single Muslim among its 300-odd Lok Sabha MPs--What about Naqvi?
Even when young, many of these trustees have in my memory not protested against grandeur government plans of building large dams, tallest statue, etc often displacing marginalised sections of society. And at great cost to the environment. Please correct me if I am wrong.

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