Intellectuals decry demand to turn Bhabha house into museum

Homi Bhabha house no museum
Mumbai, June 30: Barely a week after PMO showed willingness to take over the bungalow of Homi J Bhabha, auctioned earlier this month, to convert it into a museum, a group of actors, authors, socialites and journalists have written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi opposing the move.

'Mehrangir', the sea-facing three-storey iconic bungalow of Bhabha, father of India's atomic energy programme, at tony Malabar Hill here, was sold by its custodian NCPA at an auction on June 18 for Rs 372 crore to an undisclosed buyer.

The group, comprising 80 eminent people, has written a letter to Modi urging him not to heed the demands by scientists like CNR Rao and some others from the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) to turn the three-storey bungalow into a museum as a tribute to the legendary scientist.

The iconic house in south Mumbai has a built-up area of over 17,550 sq ft on a plot measuring over 40,000 sq ft.

"We are not representing NCPA. But we are supporting the objective of selling the property which was owned by Late Jamshed Bhabha who wanted all his belongings to be sold to raise funds for modernisation of NCPA," eminent journalist Anil Dharker told reporters.

They said while such appeals may be well-intentioned, they were "completely misplaced" as they were based on only "partially" correct information.

"The late Homi Bhabha, elder brother of Jamshed, was not born in Mehrangir in Malabar Hill but in Kenilworth on Peddar Road. This is a private property where Jamshed continued to live till his death. "Therefore, indisputably the property belongs to him. Besides in his Will, Jamshed has bequeathed the Mehrangir bungalow to NCPA. So there is no reason for any opposition," Dharkar said.

They said that in his will, Jamshed bequeathed the 'Mehrangir' bungalow and its contents to the National Centre for Performing Arts, with the express wish that these should be auctioned in their entirety and the proceeds be used for the running and expansion of NCPA's activities.


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