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Centre Serves Eviction Notice on Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Fund at Teen Murti

At a time when the public discourse in the country is marked by a litany of complaints against Nehru, the eviction notice is being seen as an attempt by the government to diminish the significant role that played by the first prime minister.

Eram Agha | News18.comEramAgha

Updated:September 25, 2018, 4:36 PM IST
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Centre Serves Eviction Notice on Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Fund at Teen Murti
The Teen Murti Bhavan Complex in New Delhi. (Image: Wikipedia)

New Delhi: The Directorate of Estates of the Union Ministry of Urban Development has asked the Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Fund, chaired by Congress leader Sonia Gandhi, to move out of the Teen Murti premises by September 24.

The move is being seen as an "exercise to de-link the two institutions — NMML and JNMF”.

The fund was established in 1964 and has been located at the Teen Murti since 1967. The notice was served to the Fund on September 11.

Speaking to News 18, Shakti Sinha, director, Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, said, “We can’t just hand out... Through the notice only a legal thing has been pointed out.” He added, “We have to expand our library and we are running short of space and we think that this is a good place to have a new building where the non-library stuff can be shifted.”

The new building will look to house the accounts and the administrative office and give more space to the visitors to make use of the library. “The library is congested, and I think there is no place for visitors to make use of the manuscripts. The administrative divisions will move out of the library building,” Sinha said.

The Fund offers research fellowships and scholarships to academics from various disciplines. The Fund has conducted annual lectures and has organised memorial functions. Among other duties, the JNMF managed institutions such as the Jawahar Bal Bhavans for children and Anand Bhavan, which is the Nehru family’s Allahabad home.

Apart from Sonia Gandhi, the Fund has former member of the Rajya Sabha, Karan Singh, as its vice-chairman. The Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Fund formally came into being when a National Committee consisting of 110 members was convened in New Delhi on 17 August 1964 under the Chairmanship of Dr S Radhakrishnan, then President of India.

In Dr S Radhakrishnan’s words “The Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Fund is a symbol of our determination to keep burning the torch that he has left to us. Let us make it a symbol worthy both of our regard and affection for him and of all that he has so generously bequeathed to us.”

Expressing fears that the Nehru legacy is under threat, Professor Zoya Hasan, trustee of the JNMF, said,"The work of NMML and JNMF has always been closely connected, and so removing the Fund from its present location will hamper its work, but I suppose one purpose of this whole exercise is to delink the two institutions."

Taking in the larger perspective, Hasan added, “At this historical juncture when the public discourse is marked by a litany of complaints and indictments against Nehru, the eviction notice is part of a series of moves by the present government to diminish the significance of Jawaharlal Nehru and his consequential role in crafting a new republic.”

“There is a concerted attempt to question and dilute his extraordinary contribution to the making of modern India and to the establishment of India’s democracy. It fits into the right-wing project of rewriting India’s contemporary history. In diminishing Nehru’s contribution, we are diminishing ourselves and expose our narrowness,” she said.

Refuting the unauthorised occupation, Hasan said, “The JNMF is not in unauthorised possession of its office premises. The Fund has clearly refuted charge of illegal occupation of these buildings in its legal reply sent on 20 September to the Directorate of Estates. It has occupied these premises for 51 years which has never been questioned or challenged in all these years.”

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