After Red Fort’s corporate takeover,  govt adopts RSS’ memorial

A file photo of the Red Fort

While the central govt hands over heritage monument Red Fort to a private company for upkeep, BJP-led govt in Maharashtra grants tourism status to a building housing RSS founder Hedegwar’s memorial

Three days after the Narendra Modi government leased the iconic Red Fort to Dalmia Bharat Group under the “Adopt a heritage” scheme, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in Maharashtra accorded Grade C tourism status to KB Hedgewar Smruti Mandir in Nagpur. The 78-year-old building is known to house the memorial of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) founder KB Hedgewar.

Located in the Resham Bagh area of Nagpur, Hedgewar Smruti Mandir is headed by the grandson of the second RSS Sarsanghchalak chief MS Golwalkar.

The district administration of Nagpur had issued a notification of granting the status on April 17, 2018, three days before the Red Fort was leased to the Dalmia Bharat Group in Delhi.

Opposing the Nagpur administration’s decision, a city-based activist filed a petition to President of India, wherein he demanded that the tourism status awarded to the Hedgewar Smruti Mandir be revoked.

In his petition, activist Mohnish Jabalpure highlighted RSS’ ‘negative’ role in India’s Independence struggle and said according tourism status to the Hedgewar memorial should be seen as part of ongoing push to distort Indian history.

In his petition, activist Mohnish Jabalpure highlighted RSS’ ‘negative’ role in India’s Independence struggle and said according tourism status to the Hedgewar memorial should be seen as part of ongoing push to distort Indian history.

“Hedgewar Bhavan has been accorded the status of tourist place because they want to teach a distorted version of history to future generations. Dr Hedgewar was busy sowing seeds of casteism in the society at the time when the whole nation was fighting for freedom. The ideology of the RSS disrespects all other religions, be it Sikhism, Buddhism or Christianity,” reads Jabalpure's petition.

The entrance to the Hedgewar Smruti Mandir complex in Nagpur, Maharashtra

The entrance to the Hedgewar Smruti Mandir complex in Nagpur, Maharashtra

It has been learnt on further investigation that the tourism status was given on recommendation of the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC).

Nagpur-based lawyer, Satish Uike, who has been following the development for years, says that giving the property tourism status cleared the decks for the BJP-ruled Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC), state and central governments to sanction public money for its renovation.

“Taxpayer money would be spent on the maintenance, salary of staff and renovation of the house, which no one really visits but funbctionaries from the BJP and RSS,” noted the lawyer.

The MTDC has also introduced Smruti Mandir’s name in the list of itineraries of Nagpur Darshan, stating that a large number of people visit the premises during Vijaydashmi celebrations and other occasions.

“Taxpayer money would be spent on the maintenance, salary of staff and renovation of the house, which no one really visits but funbctionaries from the BJP and RSS,” noted the lawyer.

According to media reports, the NMC had proposed to spend ₹ three crore for works at Smruti Bhavan and Balasaheb Devras Path Triveni Smarak (Gandhibagh) in 2017-18. Sources told Nationa Herald that, out of ₹ three crore, ₹1.7 crore would be spent on the construction of a compound wall and road in and around the Smruti Mandir.

BJP’s city vice-president Bhushan Dadwe had first demanded a tourism status for the Smruti Bhavan in 2015, following which the MTDC sent the recommendation last year, which was immediately approved by Nagpur’s District Magistrate Sachin Kurve.

Jabalpure accused Kurve of working in tandem with the RSS and BJP. According to him, Kurve was transferred to his native district Nagpur on the recommendation of the RSS.

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