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Ambedkar Museum to remain safe in London


 Bhimrao Ambedkar (Photo: INDRANIL MUKHERJEE/AFP via Getty Images).
Bhimrao Ambedkar (Photo: INDRANIL MUKHERJEE/AFP via Getty Images).

By Amit Roy

INDIA’S prime minister Narendra Modi owes Boris Johnson a favour, after his British counterpart stepped in and saved the Ambedkar Museum in London from possible closure in the larger interests of UK-India relations.

“I was pleased to grant planning permission for a museum in London to Dr Ambedkar – one of the founding fathers of modern India and an important figure to many British-Indians,” tweeted Robert Jenrick, secretary of state for housing, communities and local government.

“We are very happy,” I was told by Gautam Chakravarty, secretary of the Federation of Ambedkarites and Buddhist Organisations UK, who said there would be joyous celebrations of Ambedkar’s 129th birth anniversary on April 14.

Asked whether he thought Delhi had leaned on the British government, he replied: “We think justice has been done. Here is a man who fought for justice and equality all his life and these are universal values, still relevant after 60 years.”

Camden Council had threatened to return the property to “residential use” after finding that the museum was “set up illegally without planning permission”.

The dispute had gone to an inspector’s inquiry, when Jenrick “recovered the appeal”.

Camden Council told me last week: “While we are disappointed that the Planning Inspectorate has ruled against the council’s original decision…, we do accept and respect the decision, given the additional evidence … regarding Dr Ambedkar, who was a major figure in Indian and British history and his association with this property.”