Dalits from across the country who have gathered in the city for Dr Ambedkar's death anniversary erupted with joy after the Centre released the Indu Mills land for a memorial for their icon.
“It is good that the decision on the land has been taken,” said a Lata Wagh, adding that now, the state government needed to expedite work on the memorial.
Gautam Khade from Ulhasnagar said that the state government needed to finalise the master plan for the development of the memorial. They also questioned the delay in releasing the land for it.
However, despite the jubilation, there were some voices of scepticism. “Now, only a decision on releasing the land has been taken. The other permissions for the buildings and memorial are yet to come in. The bureaucracy is very slow,” pointed out an Ambedkar follower, on condition of anonymity.
Thousands of followers of Dr Ambedkar have gathered in the city on the occasion of his death anniversary today. The celebrations usually go on for a week.
“I arrived here with my family on December 3, and we intend to stay here till the 7th. As part of our service to Babasaheb, we will be serving free rice to all the other devotees,” said Kishan Akhade, who has come all the way from Solapur district.
However, all these loyalists of Dr Ambedkar have set up camp on the streets around Shivaji Park, which has not gone down well with residents of the area. “It is a complete invasion of our privacy, as people not only enter the area, but also our premises as and when they please. They completely change the aesthetics of the place, and we end up becoming prisoners in our own homes,” said Prafulla Shetty, a housewife and resident of Shivaji Park.