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Lakhs of Dalits arrive in Mumbai to pay homage to Dr Ambedkar

Every year, on his death anniversary, his followers visit Chaityabhoomi in Dadar; civic body has made arrangements

mumbai Updated: Dec 06, 2017 21:37 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Followers of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar take shelter from rain on the foot over-bridge at Dadar station on Tuesday.(Pratik Chorge)

Lakhs of followers of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar, the father of the Indian Constitution and leader of the Dalit community, arrived at Chaityabhoomi in Mumbai’s central area of Dadar on Wednesday morning on the occasion of his 61st death anniversary.

Rain was no deterrent for his followers who have been arriving in the city since Tuesday to pay tribute to their leader. “He gave us the right to live as human beings. For us, this is a pilgrimage we undertake annually, and nothing can stop us,” said Rahul More, who has come to the city from the interiors of Osmanabad, a district in Marathwada, Maharashtra.

Raju Kamble, who came from Pune, said this was the first time in 32 years that he had witnessed such heavy rains in Mumbai. “We never saw it raining here in December, and this was unprecedented. But we had to come anyway,” he said.

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has made preparations for the annual event by arranging for temporary accommodation at 70 schools around Chaityabhoomi, and offering free transport and medical facilities to members of the Dalit community from across the state who visit the city.

All political parties, too, will be making their presence felt in Dadar, by holding rallies, distributing food, arranging for entertainment such as folk songs, and handing out literature on Ambedkar. For politicians, the occasion is an excellent opportunity to woo the Dalit masses who constitute a huge vote bank. On Wednesday evening, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and central minister Ramdas Athawale will address a rally at Shivaji Park.

On Mahaparinirvan Diwas, or the death anniversary of Dr Ambedkar, lakhs of his followers visit Chaityabhoomi, where he was cremated 61 years ago. Dalits revere Ambedkar and credit him for their upliftment, after having suffered caste-based discrimination for centuries.

First Published: Dec 06, 2017 12:58 IST