Showdown at Shivaji Park

Published: Dec 06, 2012, 06:28 IST | Chetna Sadadekar |

As lakhs of followers descend on Shivaji Park and Chaitya Bhoomi today to pay homage to Babasaheb Ambedkar on his 56th death anniversary, Shiv Sena workers to guard Bal Thackeray's cremation spot.

More than 200 Shiv Sena workers will be present at the spot where Bal Thackeray was cremated in Shivaji Park as the ground hosts a sea of followers of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar on Mahaparinirvan Din today.

Number of Shiv Sainiks who will be guarding Bal Thackeray’s cremation site. 25 policemen will also be stationed at the spot 

Thackeray's cremation spot
Crowds have swelled around Thackeray’s cremation spot over the past few days. Pic/Satyajit Desai

Along with the police, the party workers will manage the crowds to ensure the sanctity of the cremation area is maintained as thousands of people are expected to visit Thackeray’s funeral spot as well on the occasion.

Number of followers who will be paying their respects to br Ambedkar at Chaitya Bhoomi, where his ashes are interred, on his death anniversary

Indu Mill land for an Ambedkar memorial
RPI workers celebrate after Centre okayed the transfer of Indu Mill land for an Ambedkar memorial. Pic/Shadab Khan

Since Thackeray’s funeral last month, the ground has acquired the status of a pilgrimage spot for Shiv Sena followers and other admirers of the leader. Before going to work in the morning, many people visit the cremation spot to pay homage to the departed Shiv Sena supremo.

Dadar station
Here come the pilgrims: People arrive from all over the country at Dadar station yesterday, a day before Mahaparinirvan Din. Today 20 lakh people are expected to visit Chaityabhoomi near Shivaji Park to pay homage to Babasaheb Ambedkar on his death anniversary. Pic/Satyajit Desai 

The number of people on November 18, the day of Thackeray’s funeral, was almost 15 lakh. A gathering of such magnitude is again expected at Shivaji Park today, the death anniversary of Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar fondly known as Babasaheb.

Every year more than 10 lakh people visit Chaitya Bhoomi on December 6 to pray and pay tributes to the man revered by several lakhs of Dalits across the country. Some estimates even put the number of visitors expected this year at over 20 lakh.

As Shivaji Park is near Chaitya Bhoomi, a sea of Ambedkar followers camps on the ground and basic facilities are made available for the congregation by the administration.

To maintain the peace in such a scenario and prevent the cremation area from being disturbed, Shiv Sena workers will stand along with 25 policemen put on bandobast duty at the funeral spot.

Since Thackeray’s funeral, a policeman has always been present to guard the 20x30-feet cremation area.

On the political front, the Shiv Sena is positive that with Thackeray’s cremation spot being so close to Ambedkar’s at Chaitya Bhoomi, they will be able to turn their slogan of ‘Bhim Shakti and Shiv Shakti’ into reality, just as Thackeray had wanted.

From among the at least 15 lakh people that are expected to make the journey to Chaitya Bhoomi, the Shiv Sena expects over 15,000 to visit Thackeray’s funeral spot.

A Shiv Sena shakha pramukh, Joseph Koli, who was at Shivaji Park taking care of the cremation area yesterday in Shivaji Park, said, “Every day 500 to 600 people come here from morning to evening and throng the premises, so we will be more careful tomorrow (Thursday) as there will be lot of crowds present on December 6 to visit Chaitya Bhoomi. Our belief is that the way Bhim Shakti has won (sanction for use of Indu Mills to create an Ambedkar memorial), even Shiv Shakti will win and we will be able to have a memorial to Thackeray here (Shivaji Park).”

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a policeman stationed outside the cremation area yesterday said, “We will be having an added force of about 25 policemen and the Shiv Sena has promised to deploy almost 200 men tomorrow (Thursday) only for this particular area so that there is complete security for everyone around. The place will be open to all and it will be difficult for one person to handle the crowd, so there is additional security.”

In Dadar today
Number of Ambedkar followers expected: 20 lakh
Shiv Sena workers standing guard at Thackeray cremation spot: 200
Policemen at Thackeray cremation spot: 25
Police force in and around Dadar: 12,000 (of these, 3,000 will be at Shivaji Park; 3 DCPs, 10 ACPs and 100 police inspectors for supervision)
SRPF: 5 platoons (24 personnel in each platoon)
Riot control police: 2 platoons
Fire tender: 1
Ambulances: 3
Area covered by tent
for accommodation in
Shivaji Park: 1.3 lakh sq ft
Fixed toilet blocks: 150
Mobile toilets: 17
Drinking water taps: 350
Water tankers: 10
Additional BEST buses: 42
Additional trains: 12
Railway Protection Force personnel (CR and WR): 250
Government Railway Police at Dadar station: 150-200

Traffic restrictions
>> SK Bole Road will be one-way from Siddhivinayak Junction to Hanuman Temple, which means No Entry from Hanuman Temple.
>> Bhavani Shankar Road will be one-way from Hanuman Temple/Kabutar Khana up to its junction at Gokhale Road South, i.e. No Entry from Gokhale Road South from Gopinath Chavan Chowk, except BEST buses and emergency utility services.
>> SVS Marg from Siddhivinayak Junction up to Hinduja Hospital will be closed for traffic (residents can go up to Pandurang Naik Marg Junction from Hinduja Hospital)
>> Ranade Road will be closed for all vehicles
>> Dnyaneshwar Mandir Road will be closed for traffic from its junction at SVS Road up to Dadar Chowpatty
>> Vehicular traffic, except BEST buses and emergency and utility services, will be closed from Dadar TT only if need arises
>> Kataria Road will be closed for traffic from LJ Road up to Hinduja Hospital
>> SVS Marg from Mahim Junction up to Kapad Bazar (Sitaladevi Rd) junction will be closed for all traffic.
>> Heavy vehicles, including tempos except BEST buses, will be diverted from Mahim Junction via Mori Road towards Senapati Bapat Road

Advisory in case of heavy traffic congestion in and around Shivaji Park:
South bound traffic

>> Traffic coming from Western Express Highway and proceeding towards south Mumbai shall go up to Kalanagar Junction, take left turn to proceed to Dharavi T junction to Sion Station or 60-ft Rd, Dharavi, via Kumbharwada to Sion Hospital, take right to B A Road or use Rajiv Gandhi Sea-Link via Bandra to Worli

North bound traffic
>> North bound traffic from Colaba and CST may use P D'mello Road, Barrister Nath Pai Marg, Zakeria Bunder Rd, RAK Marg up to Matunga Arora bridge then take right along Dr BA Rd, and further on via Sion Hospital Junction or take left at Gafarkhan junction on Dr Besant Road for Rajiv Gandhi Sea Link.
>> North bound vehicular traffic coming from Mahalaxmi Rly Station via Dr E Moses Rd may use Senapati Bapat Rd. 

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