After an appeal to local residents and a government notification urging people to not visit the Jaystambh on January 1 next year, Pune District Collector Rajesh Deshmukh on Thursday issued a prohibitory order under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), 1973, as per which no outsider would be allowed to visit the war memorial in Perne village between 12 pm on December 30 to 6 pm of January 2, 2021.
The order mentions that a ‘symbolic’ programme, to mark the anniversary of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon, will be held at the Jaystambh that day. Only those with passes issued by Pune Rural Police would be allowed to attend the programme.
Along with Perne, the order also restricts the entry of outsiders to Tulapur, Bakori, Wadhu Khurd, Kesnand, Kolwadi, Dongargaon, Fulgaon villages (all under the jurisdiction of Lonikand police station) and Koregaon Bhima, Dingrajwadi, Sanaswadi, Vadhu Budruk, Pimple Jagtap, Wajewadi, Apti, Wadegaon villages (in the jurisdiction of Shikrapur police station) during this period.
No book stalls, food stalls, banners, boards, hoardings, public meetings, rallies or marches will be allowed near the Jaystambh or these villages.
Even those who attend the programme at Jaystambh have to follow all guidelines issued by the state government due to the pandemic sitaution, stated the order, adding that they have to leave the area immediately once the programme gets over.
Action will be taken against those found spreading wrong information or rumours on social media about the programme, warned the district administration. It also warned against “hate messages, sloganeering or boards that cause any kind of tension” in the area.
Those who violate the district collector’s orders would face legal action under Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code and sections of the Epidemic Diseases Act.
On December 22, the state Home department had issued a notification, stating that the program at Jaystambh will be shown live on Doordarshan and other media platforms. The government urged people not to visit the Jaystambh, in view of the Covid situation, and instead pay their tributes from home.
As per a Dalit narrative, the British force that fought 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.
On January 1 every year, Dalits, mainly from the Ambedkarite Mahar community, visit the Jaystambh, a war memorial at Perne village erected by the British in memory of the soldiers who fought bravely against the Peshwas in the Battle of Koregaon Bhima.
Till about 10 years ago, the annual congregation consisted of only a few thousand people, but many more have been attending the event in recent years. On January 1, 2020, an estimated 8 lakh people had visited the war memorial.
The 200th anniversary event – on January 1, 2018 – was marked by widespread clashes, in which one person was killed and several others injured. Since then, during the January 1 programme, tight security arrangements are made at the Jaystambh and surrounding areas by the police and government.
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