MOBILE INTERNET service was suspended for around 12 hours during the day in and around Koregaon Bhima amid tight security on Wednesday, as many turned up to commemorate the 202nd anniversary of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon, an event that witnessed largescale violence two years ago.
Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA) president Prakash Ambedkar and Union Minister Ramdas Athawale were among those who paid their tribute at the ‘Jaystambh’ (victory pillar) in Perne village, about 25 km northwest of Pune.
Ambedkar claimed that some people had tried to trigger unrest, but the state government had foiled their intentions. “Some people were planning to cause violence today by politicising the situation. But we foiled the conspiracy, in consultation with the (state) government,” said Ambedkar. He said proper security arrangements had been made this year, and preventive action had been taken.
About 10,000 security personnel were deployed in Perne, Koregaon Bhima, Vadhu Budruk and the adjoining villages on the Pune-Ahmednagar road. While Internet service was suspended during the day, it was restored in the evening.
Asked about Ambedkar’s allegation, Athawale said: “I am not aware about the information that he has.”
Talking to reporters after visiting the ‘Jaystambh’, Pawar said: “This pillar has history and every year, lakhs of people come here. Some untoward incidents took place two years ago, but the government is taking utmost care and elaborate police bandobast has been made here to ensure that no untoward incident takes place.”
Pawar urged people to maintain peace. “I appeal to people to come here and offer their tributes, but also to maintain peace and not believe rumours,” he said. District Collector Naval Kishor Ram said no untoward incident was reported. Officials estimated that about 8 lakh people had turned up by the end of the day.
Violent clashes had broken out in the area around Koregaon Bhima on the 200th anniversary of the 1818 battle on January 1, 2018, in which one person was killed and several were injured.
As per the Dalit narrative, around 500 soldiers from the Dalit Mahar caste, who were part of the British Army, defeated the forces of Peshwas (who were Brahmins), in the 1818 battle.
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