WHEN IT comes to December 6, the death anniversary of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar, all roads lead to Dadar every year. Given the proximity of Chaitya Bhoomi, where the remains of the father of the Indian Constitution are buried, to the Dadar railway station, several followers of Ambedkar travel to Shivaji Park from across the state in trains.
To make their journey easier, the authorities ran special trains to both the suburban railway stations as well as long-distance trains, especially those connecting Mumbai to Aurangabad and Nagpur.
Watch What Else Is making News
On board these trains, the community feeling is hard to miss, with lakhs of followers travelling to the spot together. “I always make arrangements along with my family to visit this place on this day every year. We all travel together by train to reach the spot as it is convenient,” said Sanjay Kumar, a Nallasopara resident. “We owe our dignity in society to Dr Ambedkar,” he added.
Another follower who came with his family from Ulhasnagar said, “We took an early morning train along with others. We do it every year, travelling together with other followers in trains.”
The sea of followers who alighted at Dadar railway station and made its way to Chaitya Bhoomi was greeted along the way by stalls selling Ambedkar souvenirs as well as camps set up to provide snacks and water. The lane near Shivaji Park was awash with songs being sung to the glory of Ambedkar.
“There could be no proper ticket counting as the rides were free. We estimate at least 2,400 commuters would have travelled in each local train, which means at least 15,000 followers used the service to reach Chaitya Bhoomi,” said a Central Railway official.
Suburban commuters, though, complained of heavy rush at platforms and in trains during peak hours.
“Though Dadar is never a pleasant station during peak hours, today’s rush was bad,” said a commuter.
Near the venue, some from the crowd, like members of the Samanta Sainik Dal, helped police manage traffic.
“The rush increased post noon when it became difficult to manage the traffic and crowd. With more traffic personnel and policemen deployed at Paneri Chowk and Chaitya Bhoomi Chowk, we were managing the crowd coming from Dadar station as well as vehicular movement in the other direction,” said Ramesh Gamre, a traffic police personnel.
Preserving the SC and ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 to rights of Dalits were echoed by many.
“Though the Kopardi incident was unfortunate, Dalits of the country have always been at the receiving end as far as atrocities are concerned. Diluting the provisions of the Act is not a solution. As far as reservations for Mararthas is concerned, the authorities must take a right decision,” said Utkarsh Vanjare, a follower.