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Ambedkar anniversary: Mumbai on alert
A correspondent | December 05, 2006 20:25 IST
The Maharashtra government is on high alert since after lakhs of Dalits from all over the state will converge at Dadar's Chaityabhoomi on Babasaheb Ambedkar's 50th death anniversary in Mumbai.
Dalit leaders Prakash Ambedkar, Ramdas Athavale, Rajendra Gawai and T M Kamble were already arrested in Nagpur on December 4 after they decided to hold a protest rally against the Khairlanji killings and the desecration of Ambedkar's statue in Kanpur.
Though Dalit organisations have not announced any formal protest in Mumbai but their annual convergence on December 6 has become a cause for concern in the wake of recent violence that rocked the state.
Last week saw widespread violence in Maharashtra after some miscreants desecrated Ambedkar's statue in Kanpur.
Many Mumbaikars said they would prefer to stay home than be stuck in the city in case of violence.
Says Shashi Karkhanis, an officer with a multinational company, "I fear that some trouble will erupt tomorrow as only last week there were protests. I don't want to take a chance and therefore I will stay home. I won't send my children to school."
The state government has ordered that all schools and colleges remain closed tomorrow. The Mumbai police have issued orders to general public stating that they should remain indoors.
To make matters worse there is an urs (annual gathering) at the nearby Mahim dargah where hundreds of Muslims converge to pay respect to Saint Babab Maqdoom Shah, whose grave is three kilometers away from Chaityabhoomi.
Traffic was thrown out of gear on Tuesday evening itself. People are finding it difficult to reach home because lakhs of people are converging on Dadar in central Mumbai.
"I took two hours to reach home," said Nimesh Shah, a Mumbaikar, "Normally it takes an hour. Today the traffic situation was bad."
Traffic has already been diverted in many places and Mumbai's traffic police have urge citizens to use the train service rather than the roads.