Rich tributes were today paid to B R Ambedkar on his 127th birth anniversary with Ram Nath Kovind becoming the first President to visit the birthplace of the chief architect of the Constitution in Madhya Pradesh's Mhow to pay homage on the occasion.
Speaking at a function, Kovind urged people to follow the path of peace, harmony and brotherhood shown by the Dalit icon.
His statement assumes significance in the backdrop of the April 2 nationwide Dalit bandh, which saw large-scale violence in several states, including Madhya Pradesh where more than half a dozen people lost their lives.
"The society needs 'samrasta' (harmony) today and not 'samar' (conflict or war)...It needs non-violence and peace," he said.
Kovind said, "The country saw 13 presidents before me. I came to know I am the first president to visit Ambedkar's birthplace on the occasion of his birth anniversary."
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was in Jangala in Chhattisgarh on a day's visit, said Ambedkar has given a Constitution that protects the rights of weaker sections of the society and appealed to people not to join Naxals to achieve their goals.
"Babasahab has given us the Constitution. He ensured protection of your rights...It is the duty of the government to take care of your rights. You need not pick up weapons... ruin your lives," he said.
The prime minister said awakening among the poor and backward sections about their rights, hopes and aspirations was due to Ambedkar, and attributed his own success to the legendary social reformer.
"Ambedkar had a huge contribution in awakening the aspirations and expectations of millions of people like me," he said.
Modi was addressing a huge gathering of villagers in Jangala, located in Naxal-heartland of Bijapur in the state's tribal-dominated region.
Coinciding with the birth anniversary of the country's first law minister, the prime minister launched a healthcare and wellness centre under the "Ayushman Bharat- National Health Protection Mission".
He also launched the Gram Swaraj scheme to empower weaker sections, tribals, women and backward people, besides the Van Dhan scheme to ensure better marketing and value addition to minor forest produce to benefit forest dwellers.
Meanwhile, in Phagwara in Punjab, members of two Hindu groups and a Dalit outfit clashed, injuring four persons, with Chief Minister Amarinder Singh today appealing for peace and ordering suspension of mobile Internet and text services in four districts.
The groups clashed last night, on the eve of Ambedkar's birth anniversary, over the installation of a board and renaming of a "chowk" (intersection) in Phagwara, the police said.
The chief minister, who is personally monitoring the situation after the incident, has ordered suspension of mobile Internet services in Kapurthala, Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur and SBS Nagar districts to check rumour-mongering on social media, according to an official release.
The services were suspended with immediate effect for 24 hours, an order issued by Secretary, Home Affairs, Punjab, said.
In Greater Noida, a statue of Ambedkar was found damaged yesterday. The incident in Richhpal Garhi village of Bisrakh came to light when the villagers spotted the damaged statue.
A large police contingent was deployed in view of the tense situation.
SP (rural) Suniti Singh said a case was registered against unidentiied persons for vandalism and that the guilty would not be spared.
Singh said that the damaged statue was being replaced with a new one.
Uttar Pradesh Governor Ram Naik and chief ministers of Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Telangana -- Devendra Fadnavis, Raghubar Das, Yogi Adityanath, K Palanisami and K Chadrasekhar Rao respectively -- also paid homage to Ambedkar, besides other leaders.
Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, who is currently undergoing treatment in the US for a pancreatic ailment, also paid tributes to the Dalit icon.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)