The Republican Party of India (A), led by Union Minister Ramdas Athawale, has appealed to political parties and others to avoid making any “objectionable and provocative” comments ahead of events to mark the 201st anniversary of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon on January 1.
This year, violence had broken out in Koregaon Bhima area on January 1, when thousands had gathered there to mark the 200th anniversary of the battle. The violence had left one dead and hundreds, including police personnel, injured.
Next year, lakhs of Ambedkarites are expected to gather at the Jaystambh or war memorial, located in Perne village near Koregaon Bhima.
In a press conference on Saturday, leaders from the Pune unit of the RPI (A) said talk of the state government denying permission to programmes in Koregaon Bhima area on January 1 was “wrong”.
RPI (A) leader Parshuram Wadekar said the administration will give permission for gatherings and meetings in the area. “So, nobody should spread misleading information,” he said.
Wadekar also claimed that Dalit leader and Bharip Bahujan Mahasangh president Prakash Ambedkar never used to visit Jaystambh earlier, but Athawale and RPI (A) leader Jogendra Kawade have been holding programmes at the memorial for years. “We have been speaking to the police, administration and villagers of Bhima Koregaon. They are set to welcome the Ambedkarites on January 1. So, nobody should make any statement that will create tension. The government should ensure that proper facilities and arrangements are provided to those visiting the area on January 1,” he said.
The RPI (A) also demanded that the government provides Rs 100 crore for the development of the Jaystambh and the area around it.
A press release issued by RPI (A) city unit president Ashok Kamble and general secretary Baburao Ghadge stated that permission should not be given to anyone for holding rallies and gatherings within 500 metres of the Jaystambh.
The press release also stated that objectionable posters, handbills, banners and social media messages should be avoided.
“The January 1 violence was a failure on the part of the government. Steps should be taken to avoid any untoward incidents on January 1 next year,” said RPI (A) leader Mahesh Shinde.