Pune District Collector Rajesh Deshmukh on Saturday held a meeting of police and government officials near the ‘Jaystambh’ in Perne village to review preparations for the January 1 programme at the war memorial.
Deshmukh appealed people to hold a “symbolic celebration” during the programme to mark the anniversary of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon.
Abhinav Deshmukh, superintendent (SP) of Pune Rural Police, Ayush Prasad, chief executive officer of Pune Zilla Parishad and Additional Superintendent of Police Milind Mohite were among those who attended the meeting.
According to a press release by the district administration, the district collector paid tribute at the Jaystambh before the meeting.
“The world is fighting against Covid-19. The vaccine for Covid-19 is not yet available. There is the possibility of a second wave of infection. So, it is important that crowding should be avoided. It is the responsibility of the administration to look after the health and safety of all. People should cooperate with the administration to maintain peace during the January 1 programme,” said Deshmukh.
According to a Dalit narrative, British forces that fought the Peshwas at Koregaon Bhima on January 1, 1818, comprised largely of soldiers from the Dalit Mahar community, who waged a “war for freedom” against the alleged casteism of the Peshwas.
On January 1 every year, thousands of Dalits, mainly from the Ambedkarite Mahar community, visit the Jaystambh to mark the occasion. The Jaystambh is a war memorial at Perne village erected by the British to commemorate the Battle of Bhima Koregaon.
Violence had broken out in the area on January 1, 2018, in which one person was killed and several injured. Since then, during the programme on January 1, the government, police and local administration have taken steps to ensure tight security arrangements at the Jaystambh and its surrounding areas.
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