Mumbai: The Maharashtra government has accepted a long-standing proposal to rename Mumbai’s landmark Girgaum Chowpatty as ‘Swaraj Bhoomi’ in honour of freedom fighter Bal Gangadhar Tilak.
Tilak was cremated at the Chowpatty.
The decision was taken by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on recommendation of the Brihanmumbai Muncipal Corporation (BMC).
An independent outfit, the Lokmanya Tilak Gaurav Samiti, has been pushing for the renaming of the area after Tilak. The Samiti has also demanded that a huge 'swaraj stambh' (pillar) be installed in the garden where a statue of Tilak stands tall along the seashore.
Tilak, a veteran freedom fighter and social reformer, died on August 1, 1920. His last rites were performed at Girgaum Chowpatty along the seashore instead of crematorium because of massive public turnout at the funeral.
Samiti's chairman, Prakash Silam, had earlier said, "For the last three decades, we have been asking the government to allow the project at the same place where Tilak was cremated. It should be open to public."
"If we can have a magnificent Rajghat in the honour of Mahatma Gandhi, Shakti Sthal for Indira Gandhi, then why not a Swaraj Bhoomi in Tilak's honour," said Silam, who is the grandson of Maharashtra Legislative Assembly's first Speaker Laxman Silam.
Laxman, a Congress worker associated with Mahatma Gandhi's movement, had first raised the demand for installation of Tilak's statue at the same place where his final rites were conducted. The committee held several meetings with the state government and gave presentations on demands, including construction of an arch and pillar and naming of garden as 'Swaraj Bhoomi'. But, the proposal was rejected on the grounds that it would require environmental clearance.
"We are neither tampering with any landscape nor seeking additional land. We are not even seeking government funds," Silam had said.
(With Agency inputs)