‘Will not allow the Centre and the State government to “defile” the Mahatma’s memorial’
A protest march against the planned redevelopment of the renowned Sabarmati Ashram that started in Sevagram in Wardha in Maharashtra reached Ahmedabad in Gujarat on Saturday after covering a distance of around 800 kilometres.
The protesters, comprising some 50 Gandhians who had gathered at Gujarat Vidyapith in Ahmedabad, said they would not allow the Centre and the State government to "defile" the Mahatma’s memorial through this redevelopment plan.
The protest march will formally conclude at the Sabarmati Ashram here on Sunday morning with a prayer meet.
"We are here to tell the world we do not want the Ashram to be redeveloped into a world class monument. No sir, this idea of yours is not acceptable to us," said Gandhian Uttam Parmar.
The protesters said they are prepared to "stand up to the tyranny" and face bullets but won’t allow the government to tamper with the Gandhian monument.
"We reject the government’s proposal, and won’t be misled. We have seen what they did with Jallianwala Bagh by converting it into a selfie point…History is being rewritten, and the redevelopment project is an attempt in the same direction," said Gandhian Sanjoy Singha, also the convener of the ‘Sevagram Sabarmati Sandesh Yatra’.
Gandhian Asham Bothra said India is faced with a period that is reminiscent of the pre-Independence era, when the Britih pitted people against each as part of their divide and rule policy, adding that the misuse of Gandhi for personal benefits would not be tolerated.
Groups such as Gandhi Smarak Nidhi, Gandhi Peace Foundation, Sarva Seva Sangh, Sevagram Ashram Pratishthan, Sarvodaya Samaj, Nai Talim Samiti, Rashtriya Yuva Sangathan, National Gandhi Museum, Jal Biradari, Maharashtra Sarvodaya Mandal and Sarvodaya Organisations of Gujarat took part in the march.
The government project to redevelop Gandhi Ashram at Sabarmati in Ahmedabad, where the Mahatma lived from 1917 till 1930, envisages expansion of the area from five acres to 55 acres by bringing together various heritage buildings as a unified whole and enhancing facilities for tourists by adding more attractions such as museums, amphi-theatres, etc.
It is estimated to cost ₹1,200 crore.
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