The Maharashtra government on Tuesday urged people not to visit the Jaystambh in Perne village on January 1 next year to pay their tributes on the anniversary of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon. A notification by the state Home department stated that the programme to mark the anniversary will be shown live on Doordarshan and other media platforms, so people should pay their respects from home, given the Covid-19 pandemic situation.
The notification urged that the programme to mark the anniversary should be held in a ‘symbolic and simple’ manner. A similar appeal had been made by the Pune district administration earlier.
The state government also asked the local administration to take requisite steps to prevent crowding at Jaystambh area that day. According to the guidelines, no food stalls, book stalls or public meetings will be allowed in the Jaystambh area.
As per a Dalit narrative, the British force 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” from the “casteism” of the Peshwas.
Every year, on January 1, Dalits, mainly from the Ambedkarite Mahar community, visit the Jaystambh, a war memorial at Perne village erected by the British in memory of its soldiers who fought bravely against the Peshwas in the battle.
Violence had broken out in the area on January 1, 2018 — when lakhs had gathered there to mark the 200th anniversary of the battle – leaving one person dead and several injured. Since then, on January 1 each year, tight security arrangements are made at the Jaystambh and surrounding areas.
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