Republican Party of India (Athawale) workers on Wednesday attempted a rasta roko demanding that the Centre immediately allot land to the State government free of cost for the construction of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar International Memorial at Indu Mills here.

The protests were held at Mulund, Bhandup and Ghatkopar. Police said they detained party workers soon after the protest began. “There was no rasta roko. There was no disruption of traffic. We detained the protesters soon after they gathered at the three venues,” Sanjay Shintre, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Zone VII), told The Hindu.

The police detained 126 party workers, including 39 women, and later released them, Mr. Shintre said.

“The Maharashtra Chief Minister has declared that the Assembly has passed a resolution for constructing the memorial there. But the resolution is an eye-wash for misguiding the Dalit people of Maharashtra. It has been passed keeping in mind the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation elections,” RPI(A) spokesperson Mayur Borkar said.

He said that the 12.5 acres land of Indu Mills should be given by the government so that it can also be used for making arrangements for the Dalits who attend the ‘Mahaparinirvan Divas' (death anniversary of Babasaheb Ambedkar) every year in Mumbai on December 6.

“The entire land should be allotted to us. Apart from building the memorial, the rest of the land can be used for making arrangements for thousands of our people who come to Mumbai every year for Mahaparinirvan Divas,” Mr. Borkar said.

The Bombay High Court had recently slammed the RPI(A) for forcibly occupying the premises of the mill, and the State government for its inability to stop the encroachment. It had observed that such a situation was close to anarchy. It had reminded the protesters that they were acting against the principles laid down by the leaders they revered — Dr. Ambedkar and Gautam Buddha.

The National Textile Corporation has moved the High Court seeking directions to evict the protesters.

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