INDIA. Mumbai: A sea of humanity from all over the country thronged the Chaityabhoomi in Dadar, in central Mumbai, to pay homage to the messiah of dalits and the architect of the Indian Constitution, Bharat Ratna Dr B R Ambedkar, on his 66th death anniversary on Tuesday.
Born on April 14, 1891, at Mhow in then-Central Province (now Madhya Pradesh), Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar devoted his life to the upliftment of the Dalits and fought against the caste system and untouchability prevalent in Indian society. He was a jurist, economist, social reformer, and political leader who headed the committee set up to draught the Constitution of India.
Ambedkar renounced Hinduism and embraced Buddhism on October 14, 1956, in the presence of lakhs of disciples in Nagpur, Maharashtra. He passed away on December 6, 1956, at his residence in New Delhi.
The last rites were performed at Chaityabhoomi. His death anniversary is observed as “Mahaparinirvan Din” (a death or the freedom from the cycles of life) every year on December 6.
As has been the tradition, hundreds of people began coming to Mumbai some days ago, and the queues were unending on Tuesday.
The queues of people looking forward to a glimpse of the statue of Dr. Ambedkar in the sanctorum stretched for a few kilometres around the historic Shivaji Park. The crowd management by Mumbai Police and the overall discipline of the people were commendable.
Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari, Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, Ambedkar’s grandson Advocate Prakash Ambedkar, Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray, Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut, NCP leaders Ajit Pawar and Jayant Patil, and others paid homage and offered floral tributes at Chaityabhoomi.
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) had made elaborate arrangements for the convenience of the people converging at the Chaityabhoomi.
Water tankers, washrooms, and about 200 toilets were set up, and nearly 1000 workers were engaged to maintain cleanliness in the area where the people have been camping.
Hundreds of volunteers were distributing food and water. Many were even busy helping families trace some members who were lost in the crowds.
The makeshift shops were set up to sell books, photographs, candles, flowers, and a variety of charms and trinkets for out-of-town visitors.
President Draupadi Murmu, Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi, and Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi and Mallikarjun Kharge paid tribute to Ambedkar at Parliament House in New Delhi.
Memorial at Indu Mill
The crowds were also seen at the Ambedkar memorial, which is being set up at an estimated cost of Rs. 1090 crore on a sprawling 12-acre site owned by erstwhile India United Mills (Indu Mill) in Dadar.
The memorial will have a 350-foot-high bronze-clad statue of Ambedkar placed on a pedestal of 100-foot height (total height: 450 feet). It will be accessed by a spiral ramp.
The memorial will have a 1,000-seat auditorium, exhibition halls, a research centre, lecture halls, a library, conference halls, a meditation centre, souvenir shops, a canteen, an administrative office, and gardens.
The memorial being set up by the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority is expected to be completed by March 2024.