UK Govt steps in to rule over Ambedkar memorial closure

London: The UK government on Friday stepped in to decide the future of Ambedkar House in north London, threatened with closure due to an alleged breach of local planning rules. Robert Jenrick, UK Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, "recovered" the appeal in the case, which means the government will decide the case based on recommendations from an independent inspector appointed by the UK's Planning Inspectorate.

The inspector will oversee an inquiry into the appeal, due to commence next Tuesday, following which he will prepare a report and recommendation for ministers to take a call.

"Given the exceptional importance of Dr Ambedkar in the story of the creation of modern India, and the lasting contribution of the British-Indian community on the shared cultural heritage of our country, I have decided to recover the appeal for determination by central government," Jenrick said.

The important government intervention follows the controversy triggered by the local authority, Camden Council, rejecting an application filed by the Indian authorities to convert the residential property into an official memorial in memory of Babsaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar, the architect of the Indian Constitution. Ambedkar House is a four-storey townhouse at 10 King Henry's Road in Camden area of London, where the Dalit rights activist lived in 1921-22 during his student days at London School of Economics (LSE).

-By Aditi Khanna