After paying homage to their leader at Chaityabhoomi in Dadar yesterday, thousands of followers of B R Ambedkar visited the location where Bal Thackeray’s funeral procession ended. More than 40,000 followers of Ambedkar who also followed Bal Thackeray came to pay their respects to the late Shiv Sena chief. While a rise in the number of visitors to Shivaji Park had been anticipated for Mahaparinirvan Day, yesterday saw a 300 per cent increase.
After the announcement that Ambedkar’s memorial would be made at the Indu Mill campus itself, people who had come to pay tribute to Bal Thackeray at Shivaji Park were of the belief that the leader had done a lot for the people of Dadar and that his memorial should be made at the same location as his cremation.
There was an increase in the number of policemen deployed around Thackeray’s cremation spot at Shivaji Park, with the number going up from 25 on Wednesday to more than 35 on Thursday. Apart from forming huge queues near Chaityabhoomi, followers also flocked to the park to catch a glimpse of Thackeray's cremation area.
Riddhi Jadhav, who was present at the spot, said, “I have been visiting this spot for almost 17 years now and this has always been close to my heart. I visited Balasaheb’s cremation spot and like many Sainiks, even I am of the opinion that they should be permitted to have a memorial of Thackeray to be built there.”
Rajendra Suryawanshi, corporator, Dharavi area, said, “We have seen a huge crowd coming in today and we have been placed here to take care of the security arrangements. Everyone is first visiting Chaityabhoomi, and then coming here to pay his or her respects to the Sena supremo. In all, we have received almost 40,000 people since morning, and the police have been on their toes to provide protection.”
The scene outside Shivaji Park
The BMC had provided almost 5,000 surgical masks to all the labourers and workers who were present at Shivaji Park to protect them from the dust that was around. However, the 3,000 police personnel stationed were short of the masks, as they had to be distributed to all the NGOs and BMC workers as well. At the end, policemen improvised with handkerchiefs.
The queue of followers that formed to pay homage to Ambedkar had gone up to Siddhivinayak temple, and more than 10 lakh people visited Chaityabhoomi yesterday.
More than 6,000 people had taken medical treatment from the medical booths situated around Shivaji Park, out of which most were treated for dehydration, cramps and minor fever.