Agra hosts biggest Dalit empowerment show

Agra, April 14 (IANS) One of the biggest Dalit shows of strength began here on Thursday to mark the 125th birth anniversary of Dalit icon Bhimrao Ambedkar.

A huge “Bheem Nagri” has come up on the railway ground in Gadha Pada area, which will on Friday receive a 20-km-long ‘Ambedkar Shobha Yatra’ that will pass through the main streets of the Taj Mahal city.

The organisers told IANS that there would be some 75 tableaux depicting the plight and aspirations of Dalits and social reformers who helped them in their struggles. There will also be 50 brass bands.

A decorated elephant carrying an Ambedkar statue will be part of the show.

Dalits constitute more than a third of Agra’s 20 lakh plus population. The city is known as the Dalit capital of northern India.

Activist Naresh Paras said Agra was a major player in shoe making business and the country’s top exporter of shoes because of Dalits.

Police are taking no chances.

Senior Superintendent of Police Preetinder Singh said the city had been divided into three super zones, six zones and 33 sub zones plus six sectors to manage the crowds.

A 100 feet wide dais at the Bheem Nagri will be the main focus of activities spread over three days.

People from neighbouring districts will also be transported to the Bheem Nagri. District authorities estimate that several lakhs are expected to converge at Agra.

The celebrations will include speeches by Dalit intellectuals, poets and followers of Ambedkar.

Ambedkar visited Agra’s Buddha Vihar in March 1956. The same year, he died on December 6.

Agra’s bonding with Ambedkar began with the first conversions of Dalits to Buddhism at his initiative.

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