Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Fund gets eviction notice

Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Fund gets eviction notice

The Centre has sent a notice to the Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Fund (JNMF), chaired by Congress president Sonia Gandhi, asking it to vacate the Teen Murti Estate on the grounds of “unauthorised occupation,” setting off a row over the issue.

In its notice, the Union Housing and Urban Affairs ministry's has also held the JNMF liable to pay damages for "illegal occupation of the premises with effect from August 28, 1967".

Responding to the ministry's notice, JNMF administrative secretary N Balakrishnan “unequivocally refuted” the charge, saying that the premises have been in JNMF's occupation and “cemented” since 1967.

“It has remained unchallenged and never questioned. The government has no right to evict the JNMF,” he said, seeking withdrawal of the eviction notice.

Zoya Hasan, an eminent academician and one of the trustees of the JNMF, called the government's move as a part of its “concerted attempts to isolate and dilute the Nehruvian institution and legacy.”

“It's not illegal occupation. This whole issue must be seen in the right perspective. There has been a concerted attempt to isolate and dilute the Nehruvian institutions and Nehruvian legacy by the current establishment. This is just not right,” she told DH when asked for her comment.

The ministry's eviction notice to the JNMF comes amid a raging controversy over the government's move to set up an all Prime Minister's of India museum on the premises of the Teen Murti complex, which houses the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library (NMML).

NMML director Shakti Sinha had written to the ministry for either evicting the JNMF from the Teen Murti complex premises or construct a new building for the NMML, citing severe space crunch at the complex.

“The NMML is in need of space. People want to watch microfilms, the library is always crowded… I want to shift all non-academic departments out of the library but there is no space. The part of the premises occupied by the JNMF is the only possible and viable space in the Teen Murti Complex. The entire property belongs to the ministry and they have occupied government property wrongly,” a news agency quoted Sinha as saying.

Established in 1964, the JNMF is located here at Teen Murti Complex, which was once the residence of India's first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru. The JNMF's offices are not part of the main building but occupy a set of barracks on its eastern side with a separate entry from Teen Murti Marg.

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