With only three days to go for the 203rd anniversary of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon, various Ambedkarite organisations and the district administration have urged people to avoid visiting the Jaystambh in Perne, and instead stay at home and pay their respects on the occasion, due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
On Tuesday, various office-bearers of the Bhima Koregaon Vijaystambh Shauryadin Samanvay Samiti — a coordination committee comprising members of various Ambedkarite organisations — urged people to pay their respects from their homes across Maharashtra and India and avoid coming to the Jaystambh, a war memorial in Perne village erected in memory of the soldiers who lost their lives in the battle.
Pune District Collector Dr Rajesh Deshmukh and Pune Rural Superintendent of Police Abhinav Deshmukh, along with other senior officers, also visited the premises of Jaystambh on Tuesday and reviewed various arrangements and security measures which will be in place around January 1.
After the visit, Rajesh Deshmukh said, “Directives have been given to check the temperature and oxygen saturation levels of the visitors, plus sanitisers will be made available at every point, social distancing will be ensured and mobile washrooms will be placed. Adequate police deployment for law and order, availability of fire brigade for any contingency and adequate parking space will be made available. The ceremonies held at the Jaystambh will be telecast live on Doordarshan’s Sahyadri channel and we urge people to avoid crowding.”
In a press conference held on Tuesday, Rahul Dambale, a member of the Bhima Koregaon Vijaystambh Shauryadin Samanvay Samiti said, “It was unanimously decided that the ceremonies at the Jaystambh this time will be symbolic and representative in nature because of the Covid pandemic. We urge Ambedkarite community members across Maharashtra and India, and also others, to pay their respects from home.”
Describing the rituals to be performed that day, he said, “There will be floral decorations like every year. From early morning, around 7 am on January 1, Buddhist monks will perform Buddha Vandana and Dhamma Desana. Members of Samana Sena and retired personnel from Mahar Regiment of the Army will hold a drill with a band. After that, till 12 noon, some senior political leaders and representatives of Ambedkarite organisations will pay their respects in the slots allotted to them. We urge people to cooperate with the district administration and police, and pay their respects from home.”
Pune Rural SP Abhinav Deshmukh said, “There will be police deployment of 2,500 personnel and officers, 800 personnel of the Home Guard and eight companies of the State Reserve Police Force. Passes have been issued to the people who will pay their respects in a symbolic and representative manner.”
In the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic, Deshmukh had earlier issued a prohibitory order under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), 1973, which prohibits people from outside from visiting the Jaystambh between December 30, 2020, and 6 am on January 2, 2021. Exemptions will only be made for those who will be issued passes for conducting various ceremonies at the Jaystambh, which will be part of a symbolic programme at the monument.
The prohibitory orders are also in force against “spreading misinformation and rumours on social media platforms” about the Jaystambh, and various ceremonies taking place there on January 1.
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