It must be recognised as a Gandhi heritage site, says Saseendran

Congress (S) leader and MLA A.K. Saseendran has demanded the Gandhi Asram near Civil Station here be recognised as a Gandhi heritage site by the Gandhi Heritage Mission (GHM).

Appealing to Chief Minister Oommen Chandy to take up the demand with the GHM, Mr. Saseendran said it was a matter of dismay for all Gandhians that none of the places in Kerala associated with Gandhiji figured on GHM’s list of Gandhi heritage sites.

The mission, constituted by the Union government in 2006, renovates centres associated with Gandhiji’s life and activities. It is headed by former West Bengal Governor Gopalakrishna Gandhi. GHM has already granted recognition to 39 Gandhi heritage sites The Union government has plans to identify and develop 2000 Gandhi centres, in and outside the country.

Mr. Saseendran said the Gandhi Asram in Kozhikode was among the prime spots associated with Mahatma Gandhi in Kerala. The asram was the Malabar headquarters of the Khadi Board headed by Janalol Bajaj which was established by Indian National Congress in 1923 and of the Charka Sangham formed by Mahatma Gandhi in 1925.

Despite its historical importance the asram, which stands on 1.35 acres donated by Seth Nagjee who was a leading industrialist of erstwhile Malabar, has remained neglected. Gandhiji had stayed at the asram on two occasions — in October 25, 1927 and January 15, 1934. He had led mass prayers and taken class on use of charka (spinning wheel) on both occasions. Former Prime Ministers Indira Gandhi, and Morarji Desai, former President Neelam Sanjiv Reddy, and Gandhiji’s granddaughter Sumitra Kulkarni have visited the centre. In 1958, the asram was made part of the Kerala Sarvodaya Mandalam which was led by social workers such as K. Kelappan and K.P. Madhavan Nair.

Mr. Saseendran said all nationalists would want the asram recognised as a Gandhi heritage site with facilities for research in Gandhian thought.

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