Thousands of people have started visiting the ‘Jaystambh’ – memorial of victory – in Koregaon Bhima village, about 30 km northeast of Pune, ahead of an event, mainly attended by Dalits, to mark the anniversary of the 1818 battle between the British and the Peshwas. The Pune rural police and the district administration have stepped up security to avoid the repeat of last year’s violence when one was killed and several injured following caste clashes.
“Meticulous arrangements have been made with a four-pronged approach — crowd management, traffic flow management, maintaining law and order situation and anti-sabotage vigil. We are confident that event will be conducted peacefully and smoothly,” said Inspector General of Police Vishwas-Nangre Patil at Vadhu Budruk.
Internet services will remain shut in Koregaon Bhima today. The police has also banned the entry of Hindutva leader Milind Ekbote, as well as activists associated with the Kabir Kala Manch (KKM), to areas under its jurisdiction from December 30 to January 1. Bhim Army chief and Dalit leader Chandrashekhar Azad, who was detained along with several activists on Sunday, is also slated to visit the Jaystambh. This year marks the 201st anniversary year of the battle of Koregaon Bhima.
This year marks the 201st anniversary year of the battle of Koregaon Bhima. Event to mark Bhima Koregaon anniversary today. Follow HIGHLIGHTS here
Bhima Koregaon case: 35 of 360 witnesses examined so far, says social activist Sanjay Patil
A two-member judicial commission appointed by the Maharashtra government to probe the Bhima Koregaon violence has examined 35 of the total 360 witnesses of the incident that took place exactly a year ago, social activist Sanjay Lakhe Patil claimed Tuesday, PTI quoted.
A sum of Rs 62 lakh has been provided so far for expenses incurred by the commission, Patil said.
The commission, headed by Justice (retired) J N Patel, was set up in February last year and has had eight sittings in Pune and Mumbai, PTI quoted Patil.
In pics: Lakhs pour in Pune to pay respects
Lakhs poured in Janstambh, Pune to pay their respects on the anniversary of the Battle of Koregaon on Tuesday.
(Express photos by Arul Horizon, Pune)
Glimpse of Koregaon Bhima on New Year
Tight Police security continued as Ambedkarites gather around Vijayastambh on the eve of New year night at Bhima Koregaon.
Ambedkarites gather around Vijayastambh on the eve of New year night at Bhima Koregaon.
Ambedkarites spend their new year night around Vijayastambh in Bhima Koregaon as winter brought cold breeze to the banks of Bhima river.
The line for food near Vijayastambh on the eve of New year at Bhima Koregaon.
(Express photos by Nirmal Harindran, 1st January 2019, Mumbai)
Heavy traffic moving towards Koregaon Bhima, vehicles form a queue as long as 5 kms
Around 1 pm, there was a sudden rise in the number of vehicles moving towards Koregaon Bhima which, has led to a major traffic jam on the road. Vehicles have formed a queue as long as 5 kms on the Pune Ahmednagar highway. For this purpose, police have made arrangements for additional parking space in an open field near Kesnand village and have put a halt on vehicles moving towards Koregaon Bhima to avoid further traffic.
Republic Party of India leader and Union Minister Ramdas Athawale and Bhim Army chief Chandra Shekhar Azad Ravan are expected to visit Koregaon Bhima.
Massive security in place as thousands visit Janstambh
In case you are just joining us, today is the 201st anniversary of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon. Heavy security arrangement has been made near Koregaon Bhima, to avoid a rerun of last year when violence broke out following caste clashes. Internet services are shut and the police have also banned the entry of Hindutva leader Milind Ekbote, as well as activists associated with the Kabir Kala Manch (KKM) in the area to avoid trouble.
Bhim Army chief Chandrasekhar Azad Ravan is likely to pay a visit to Janstambh - the war memorial - to commemorate the battle. "I will be going to Koregaon Bhima for sure. I am a citizen of India and not a terrorist, and it is my fundamental right to visit the place (Jaystambh), which is a symbol of the bravery of Bahujans. Dr Ambedkar used to visit this place. So, nobody can stop us from going there…," he had said earlier
Curiosity and Dalit solidarity bring several first-timers to Koregaon Bhima
Among the people coming in for the anniversary this year are a large number of first-timers, drawn to the annual event by the tales they have heard about the place in the last one year. The widespread violence witnessed last year could have been a dampener for people coming this year. Instead, it seems to have fanned the curiosity of many. This year, the crowds have also started coming in a bit early, from Sunday morning itself. By late afternoon on Monday, the entire ground near the Jaystambh was occupied by people. As workers decked up the Jaystambh with garlands and flowers, a festive atmosphere prevailed, and women and children wearing blue turbans took selfies. Some local artistes kept themselves busy singing songs in praise of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar. Many of the visitors have traversed long distances, braving an unusually cold December. Read more
Security cover increased after footfall raises
The frequency of shuttle buses from Pune to Perne, Koregaon Bhima and Vadhu Budruk has been increased after the footfall near Jaystambh increased. The number of security officials deployed has also increased. Earlier, the authorities expected a crowd of nearly 4 lakh people.
Visiting Jaystambh my fundamental right: Chandrashekhar Azad
Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad is set for his first visit to the Jaystambh to mark the 201st anniversary of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon. The Dalit leader, yesterday had to cancel; his public meeting in Pune, after the Bombay High Court refused to grant interim relief to the outfit over its plans to hold events in the city.
On his plans to visit Koregaon Bhima, Azad said, “I will be going to Koregaon Bhima for sure. I am a citizen of India and not a terrorist, and it is my fundamental right to visit the place (Jaystambh), which is a symbol of bravery of Bahujans. Dr Ambedkar used to visit this place. So, nobody can stop us from going there…”. He added, “It was not right to impose a ban on our public meetings. It seems Maharashtra has rajtantra (monarchy)and not loktantra (democracy).” Read more
Family remembers Khandojibin Gajoji, a soldier who fought Peshwas
Captain (honorary) Balasaheb Jamadar, a retired Junior Commissioned Officer of the Indian Army, said the day was also an occasion for him to remember the bravery of his ancestor Khandojibin Gajoji Jamadar, a soldier who was part of the British Army that fought against the Peshwa forces in the Battle of Bhima Koregaon on January 1, 1818. “As per the documents and records that are available, my ancestor, Khandojibin Gajoji Jamadar, was a soldier in the second batallion of the first regiment of the Bombay Native Infantry of the British Army. He was injured while fighting the Peshwas in the Battle of Bhima Koregaon on January 1, 1818. He was hospitalised for treatment and discharged on February 19, 1818. The British government awarded Khandojibin Gajoji Jamadar a medal for his bravery in this battle. Later, when the Jaystambh was erected, the British authorities appointed him in-charge of the Jaystambh, to take care of the war memorial,” said Jamadar, who belongs to the Maratha community and claims to be the sixth descendant of Khandojibin Gajoji Jamadar. Read more
Police hope to avoid rerun of 2018 Bhima Koregaon violence
Pune District Collector Naval Kishore Ram said the administration was making every effort to ensure that the anniversary celebrations are peaceful. “We are expecting a huge crowd to turn up for the anniversary. Accordingly, we are setting up 11 parking lots, making arrangements for 150 buses, installing CCTVs and drone cameras, and arranging for mobile toilets and water tankers,” said Ram. He said he held several meetings with locals in the last two months. “People are cooperating with us. They have told us that they will not overreact to fake social media messages and there will be no violence whatsoever,” he said, adding, “we are closely monitoring potential troublemakers.” “We will not stop leaders from making speeches. But we will closely monitor what they are saying. Anybody trying to make a divisive speech or say something that could cause disharmony will be stopped. We will file FIRs against them,” he said.
Those affected by Bhima Koregaon violence continue to struggle
A year after clashes, those who suffered losses in 2018 due to the violence continue to struggle even after many received compensation. “What about justice? Not just those who burnt my properties, what I’m fighting for is punishment for all those who incited and executed the violence,” says Mangal Kamble, in her 50s. Kamble is the complainant in an FIR on the torching of her five tin-shed rooms, a makeshift restaurant and a plywood store, all rented out. She used the compensation of Rs 1 lakh to rebuild the structures last month but is yet to find tenants.
Also struggling are Suresh Sakat and his son Jaideep, whose “house and business” were burnt down on January 2. Both were given a police detail after Suresh’s daughter Puja, an eyewitness to the house being burnt was found to have drowned in a well. “My son is a driver, how can he go to work with a police guard?” asks Suresh. The family was temporarily relocated by the state in Pune, but the Sakats are unclear if there will be any arrests for the arson and violence. Read more
Local villagers served prohibitory orders, real perpetrators of violence still at large: Prakash Ambedkar
Speaking to media at the Jayastambh, Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh leader Prakash Ambedkar said, "Elgaar Parishad was an attempt to bridge the rift between various communities. But through the police probe, the government targeted the people and especially young men and women who were behind organising the conference."
He added, "Around three months ago, local villagers had told the police that they will ensure that no untoward incident like the last year will take place this time. In spite of this assurance, local villagers were served prohibitory orders but the real perpetrators of violence are still at large."
While Ambedkar is not scheduled to take any rally in the area, at least five Dalit organisations have been granted permission to hold their rallies in and around Perne and Koregaon Bhima
On Bhima Koregaon anniverary, Pune bishop appeals churches to pray for peace
Bishop of Pune diocese, Thomas Dabre has appealed to churches and institutions in the west Maharashtra city to hold prayers for "peace and harmony" during the 201st anniversary of the Koregaon Bhima battle.
"As the Bishop of the Diocese of Ponna (Pune), I have issued a circular to around 60 churches and 20 institutions in the city to hold prayers for peace and harmony to be prevailed in Koregaon Bhima and in the Pune district during the 201st anniversary of the Koregaon Bhima battle," said Dabre. Despite whatever differences we have had, be it social, political and religious, we are Indians first and we should go beyond all these differences and considered ourselves fellow citizens, he said. "All should strive to live in complete harmony, unity, peace. As fellow citizens, one should not indulge in violence and rioting activities," he said. (PTI)
Security tightened in Koregaon Bhima
Superintendent of Police (Pune Rural) Sandip Patil, who is in-charge of the security arrangements for January 1 event, said that compared to last year, there is going to be 10 times more deployment of security forces in the area. At least 12 companies of State Reserve Police Force (SRPF), 5,000 police personnel, 1,200 home guards and 2,000 volunteers of Samata Sainik Dal will be deployed in Koregaon Bhima, Perne, Vadhu Budruk and adjoining areas on January 1, police said. Over 300 CCTV cameras, 100 video cameras, drones and spy cameras are being used by the police for keeping a watch on suspicious movements, they said.January 1, 2019
What happened at the Battle of Bhima Koregaon on January 1, 1818?
The battle took place at the village of Koregaon where 800 British troops faced 30,000 Marathas on January 1, 1818. The Marathas lost between 500 and 600 killed and wounded. Subsequently, as Maratha strongholds started falling, Bajirao II went on the run, finally surrendering in 1823. Of the 834 British troops, 275 were killed, wounded, or missing. The story of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon on January 1, 1818, has come to be mediated by competing narratives of Dalit assertion against Brahminical oppression, and Indian ‘nationalism’ standing up to the colonial army of the East India Company. Dr B R Ambedkar visited the Jaystambh repeatedly and said in a speech in Sinnar in 1941 that the Mahars had defeated the Peshwas at Koregaon. Despite British claims of having achieved “one of its proudest triumphs”, the outcome of the battle remains contested, and some Maratha histories have claimed it was the Peshwa army that was, in fact, victorious. Read more
Will not allow hate speech near Jaystambh: District Collector
With lakhs of Dalits set to converge at Koregaon Bhima and nearby villages to mark the 201st anniversary of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon on January 1, the district administration says all plans are in place to ensure peaceful celebrations. District Collector Naval Kishore Ram, who is coordinating the efforts of the police and the administration in an interview to The Indian Express tells that they will not allow speeches near Janstambh.
"Speeches will not be allowed close to the Jaystambh. Speeches will be allowed only 500 metres away from Jaystambh, but on a small scale. We have framed a code of conduct and everyone will have to follow it. Our concern is mainly about hate speech. We will not allow any kind of hate speech. We will stop them then and there. In a vibrant democracy like ours, we cannot discourage free speech, but at the same time we cannot allow hate and provocative speeches, speeches that could inflame sentiments and create trouble." Read more
Traffic diverted, crowd divided into batches to avoid trouble
Jaystambh was erected by the British government in 1821, in memory of its soldiers who fought against the Peshwas in the battle. As thousands of people start coming towards the memorial, they are being given an entry in batches to avoid overcrowding inside the premises. Traffic on Pune Ahmednagar Highway has also been diverted as police have closed the road at Koregaon Bhima and Perne.
Internet services suspended in Koregaon Bhima
Internet services are suspended in the area to prevent the spread of rumours or provocative messages on social media, SP (Pune Rural) Patil said. So far, the police have taken action against 45 people from different parts of Maharashtra for spreading objectionable, hate messages on social media in the view of the January 1 gathering, he said. Preventive action – warnings and detentions – have also been taken against more than 700 people.
Prakash Ambedkar pays respects at Jaystambh
Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh leader Prakash Ambedkar, who is the grandson of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar pays his respects by laying a wreath at the Jayastambh. “People want peace. They want to mark the anniversary of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon with peace and pride. But the government seems to be interested in creating trouble and is indulging in all kinds of nautanki. It has made preventive arrests, it has taken control of the Jaystambh (the victory memorial in Perne village), and is busy raising the bogey of urban Naxalism. The government is indulging in anti-people acts. This is all going to boomerang on the government,” Ambedkar, president of Bharip Bahujan Mahasangh had told The Indian Express earlier.
Ambedkar said he will, this time, join the crowds that march towards the Jaystambh every year on the January 1 anniversary, but would not participate in any event or make any speeches. “No speeches are made during the anniversary. Everything is done in an orderly manner,” he said. Read more
Residents say no trouble expected in Koregaon Bhima this year
Residents of Bhima Koregaon, Vadu Budruk and Perne, the sites of tension and rioting on January 1, 2018, say no trouble is expected this year. On WhatsApp groups and Facebook posts, the aggression has been toned down over the past week amid proactive policing and extensive security plans. “It’s going to be peaceful tomorrow,” says Santosh Davne, 35, from Nanded. “I set up a stall every year, but I have never seen such police presence or such quiet fear among people,” he says.
People arrive at Jayastambh
As Koregaon Bhima and surrounding areas got converted into a fortress with heavy deployment of police, a large number of people started arriving from across Maharashtra to pay their respects at the Jayastambh for the 201st anniversary of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon on Tuesday.
From Sunday evening, several groups of people were seen reaching Perne and surrounding areas and camping in open spaces around the war memorial.
“We came here last night after we visited the Chavdar Tale in Mahad. We have been cooking our own food. We were given some blankets, which were in addition to what we are carrying,” said Vidya Wankhede, who is visiting the area with a group of 15 women from Morshi village in Amravati district. This group is coming for the anniversary for the first time. “This is our first visit. We heard a lot about this place and we wanted to pay our respects to the martyrs,” said Usha Ingole, another member of the group.
Welcome to the live blog. The Pune rural police and the district administration have stepped up security to avoid the repeat of last year’s violence. The clashes last year resulted in the death of one and injured several others.