Notwithstanding the Gujarat government’s assertion that the ethos and simplicity of the Gandhi Ashram will be preserved, marchers of Sevagram – Sabarmati Sandesh Yatra on Saturday rejected the proposed move to form a Trust to oversee the “restoration” and “redevelopment” of the ashram.
Gandhians and a section of civil society activists are opposing the “redevelopment” plans on the ground that simplicity of the ashram. Earlier, more than 130 eminent citizens of the country, including Gandhians, had described the government’s move as the second assassination of Mahatma Gandhi who had built the ashram on the banks of river Sabarmati.
Following a hue and cry against the “redevelopment” plan, Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel’s official twitter handle released an audio visual clip explaining what the project is all about.
The state government also asked the Sabarmati Gandhi Ashram Preservation and Memorial Trust, headed by Gandhian Ela Bhatt, to give a concept note on how the “renovated” Gandhi Ashram should look like.
Meanwhile, the protest march reached Ahmedabad on Saturday and at a programme organised in Gujarat Vidyapith in the evening, the marchers and Gandhians rejected the state government’s proposed move of forming a Trust that would handle “restoration” of the ashram.
On Sunday, they will attend a prayer meeting at the Gandhi Ashram.
Speaking on the occasion, Gandhian Prakash Shah said that forming a new Trust is a trap. He alleged that earlier the trustees were taken for a ride and now the government is asking for a concept note.
Rajendra Singh, also known as “Waterman of India”, described the “redevelopment” as nothing but an attempt to rewrite history. He pointed out that like one of the three monkeys of Gandhiji, we tend to overlook things that are wrong. It is time to change the reaction, he remarked.
Social worker Chinmay Mishra while indirectly referring to a large number of empty chairs in the auditorium said that it also needs to be understood why people are not coming to us.
He got emotional and recalled that Gandhiji had said that he would return to Gandhi/Sabarmati Ashram after India would become independent. “He never returned to Ahmedabad. Let us bring back Gandhiji to Ahmedabad,” he said.
The speakers said that regardless of what the outcome would be, they were ready to fight the “redevelopment” on a peaceful note.
Some of them said that the authorities aren’t aware about what kind of mantle Gandhians are made up of.
The redevelopment plan for the Rs 1,200-crore project has been prepared by HCP Design, Planning and Management Private Limited, headed by Bimal Patel. His firm is also executing the Central Vista Project.