Chaityabhoomi readies to welcome thousands
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All roads led to Chaityabhoomi and Shivaji Park in Dadar on Wednesday as thousands of followers of Dr B R Ambedkar poured into the city ahead of his 56th death anniversary on December 6. Police estimated that around 25,000 people were present on the stretch between Indu Mill and Shivaji Park on the Swatantra Veer Savarkar Marg in Dadar West on Wednesday evening.
The first of the arrows pointing towards Chaityabhoomi are visible at Dadar station. To ensure smooth flow of traffic, followers are directed from Ranade Road to Indu Mill, where the queues begin and snake through SKS Marg to reach Chaityabhoomi. The BMC has placed 130 mobile toilets with 13 units each along the way and inside Shivaji Park, where thousands are expected to camp overnight. In addition, there are temporary bathing areas and desks for water and medical assistance at each exit.
"The queues were short in the afternoon. I am glad I was able to get a darshan quickly," said Keshav Wagh from Chembur. The 50-year-old will return on Thursday morning for the 10th year running.
All the way from Dadar station to Chaityabhoomi, the streets were lined with makeshift stalls and vendors hawking their wares — from trinkets and beads to framed photos and busts bearing Ambedkar's likeness. The more elaborate stalls at the beach sold a variety of literature on Ambedkar alongside music CDs and DVDs.
Inside Shivaji Park, policemen continued to guard Bal Thackeray's temporary memorial, which was closed to the public. "The situation has been peaceful but on Thursday, we expect at least seven lakh people in the area, in addition to the thousands who will keep moving between Shivaji Park and Chaityabhoomi. Some 10,000 police personnel have been posted. The park will fill up at night," said an officer.