Centre bows before threats by Dalits, transfers Indu Mill land for Dr B R Ambedkar memorial

Dalit outfits

Decks have been cleared by the Centre to transfer prime Indu Mill land in Mumbai to Maharashtra government for constructing a memorial to Dr B R Ambedkar, meeting a long pending demand of several political parties in the state.

"The Government of India has taken a view to make available this land for use to the Government of Maharashtra for the construction of a befitting memorial," Textiles Minister Anand Sharma said in identical statements in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha today.

Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Mulayam Singh Yadav's Samajwadi Party (SP) had added to pressure on govt on Wednesday by stalling proceedings in Parliament over the issues of construction of a memorial for Bhimrao Ambedkar and quota in promotion for SC/ST in government jobs.

The ashes of Babasaheb Ambedkar are interred at Chaitya Bhoomi, situated in the vicinity of the 12.5 acre land of India United Mill, popularly known as Indu Mill, under the National Textile Corporation at Prabhadevi in central Mumbai.

"The government has initiated the process to give effect to this decision and I will be shortly be moving the necessary legislative proposal for Parliamentary approval. I seek the support and endorsement of the House," Sharma said.

Dalit outfits had set December 6, Ambedkar's death anniversary, as the deadline for the state to decide on the issue, failing which they threatened to forcibly occupy the mill premises.

Sharma said the decision was taken respecting public sentiments and in response to the request of the Maharashtra government and taking note of the unanimous resolution passed by both Houses of Maharashtra Legislature.

Sharma hailed Ambedkar as one of India's "tallest" leaders and acknowledged his contribution in guiding the process of framing the Constitution.

A delegation of MPs from Maharashtra, led by Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, had met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh yesterday to press for transfer of the land.

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