London, Jan 23 (PTI) The historic India Club in London, a hub for Indian nationalists during the Indian independence movement in the 1930s and 40s, has launched a crowdfunding drive to raise legal costs for a fight to prevent its closure.
The venue, which had won its battle to prevent the building in the heart of London’s Strand from demolition a few years ago, has been served a notice by the landlords to make way for a more modernised hotel.
The proprietors launched a “Save India Club” online appeal this week, which has already raised over 4,300 pounds (USD 5,883) on the UK’s Crowdfunder platform.
“As an Indo-British institution which has survived for over half a century, this is a tragedy. It is also particularly painful as it comes at a time when we have worked tirelessly to survive the pandemic, like many other local independent businesses,” said Phiroza Marker, the manager of India Club whose family has been associated with its running for over 23 years.
“We have been served a notice by the landlord on the grounds that they wish to run their own business from the premises. The particulars of their claim outline that this will be a hotel and that they will modernise the interior. If the landlords latest attempt fails, they want an 80 per cent increase in rent. We have, to date, met all our rent obligations,” she said.
The India Club has its roots in the India League, which campaigned for Indian independence in Britain with its founding members including Krishna Menon, who went on to become the first Indian High Commissioner to the UK.
Besides housing one of the UK’s early Indian restaurants, the Club quickly transformed into a hub for a rapidly growing British South Asian community in the aftermath of India’s independence and Partition in 1947.
“Menon intended the India Club to be a place where young Indian professionals living on a shoestring could afford to eat, discuss politics and plan their futures,” says Parvathi Raman, Founding Chair of the Centre for Migration and Diaspora Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), who worked on the exhibition ‘A Home Away from Home: The India Club’ in 2019, curated by the UK’s conservation charity National Trust.
“The India Club holds a special place in the hearts of many people, and remains a vibrant hub for Anglo-Indian communities to come together,” said Nicola Briggs, National Trust''s Regional Director for London and the South East.
The club, which has functioned as an Indian restaurant on the Strand near the Indian High Commission since 1946, is located on the first floor of the 26-room Strand Continental hotel.
The freeholder of the building, Marston Properties, had earlier put in an application with Westminster City Council for a “partial demolition" to create a new hotel. The application was unanimously turned down by the Council in August 2018, noting the venue''s importance as a cultural institution in the heart of London.
“Fighting the landlord – a multi-million pound property developer – for three years, combined with the pandemic, has taken a financial toll. We now need to raise at least 50,000 pounds (USD 68,407) for legal costs to continue the fight,” reads the Crowdfunder.co.uk appeal.
“Any surplus funds or costs recovered will go towards our rent costs and be a much-needed lifeline during these uncertain times. Together we must ensure the India Club does not fall victim to another profit-grab in the guise of modernisation,” it adds. PTI AK CPS
Disclaimer :- This story has not been edited by Outlook staff and is auto-generated from news agency feeds. Source: PTI