Mumbai echoed with chants of ‘Jai Bhim’ on Sunday as people from all parts of India wound their way to Dadar’s Chaityabhoomi, the resting place of Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar, to pay obeisance on his 59th death anniversary. Tributes were paid to the architect of India’s Constitution, and many even endured a day-long wait to pay their respects as queues stretched up to Worli’s Haji Ali.
Official estimates put the number of attendees at Chaityabhoomi since Saturday at over 7 lakh. The city also passed the crowd control test with the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corportation (BMC) and the Mumbai Police making elaborate arrangements for security and amenities to ensure that no untoward incident took place.
Earlier this year, the Centre had signed a memorandum of understanding with the Maharashtra government to hand over the 12-acre Indu Mill land for the Ambedkar memorial. Incidentally, Ambedkar’s own grandson and Bharip Bahujan Mahasangh leader Prakash Ambedkar had opposed plans to set up the memorial on the mill land. He had instead suggested that a world-class educational institute be set up on the land in his grandfather’s memory.
On Sunday morning, Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao and Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis visited Chaityabhoomi to pay respects to Ambedkar. The Maharashtra government had accorded state honour to the function. “My salutations to Bharat Ratna Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar, the architect of the most supreme Constitution of the world,” Fadnavis said while offering tributes.
In the sea of humanity, there were several who proudly wore their small connection with Dr Ambedkar. “This is the 50th year that I have come to Chaityabhoomi and I have always been proud of the small connection I share with Babasaheb,” said Harish Kambli, 78, who had come from north Maharashtra. Tight security was arranged outside the mill land and the Bal Thackeray memorial at Shivaji Park.
Amid stalls hawking Ambedkar paraphernalia at Shivaji Park, there were even stalls offering free counselling for higher education fields such as engineering, medical and aviation.
The BMC too printed lakh copies of an informative booklet on Dr Ambedkar, which was distributed free of cost.