Prakash Ambedkar: People want peace, but govt trying to create troublehttps://indianexpress.com/article/india/prakash-ambedkar-people-want-peace-but-govt-trying-to-create-trouble-5511095/

Prakash Ambedkar: People want peace, but govt trying to create trouble

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.

Prakash Ambedkar: People want peace, but govt trying to create trouble
Prakash Ambedkar

Dalit leader Prakash Ambedkar on Wednesday said that in the guise of making security arrangements for the upcoming anniversary of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon, the government and local administration were indulging in nautanki (drama) and trying to “foment trouble”.

“People want peace. They want to mark the anniversary of 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, told The Indian Express.

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.

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Last year, in the run-up to the anniversary, an evening programme, named Elgaar Parishad, was organised at Shaniwar Wada in Pune, where several speakers, including Gujarat MLA Jignesh Mevani, made speeches. A police investigation into the alleged role of Naxal groups in organising the event has snowballed into a major crackdown on the supposed sympathisers of the banned group, CPI-Maoist. The anniversary was marred by widespread violence and group clashes, in which a person was killed and several others were left injured.

This time, a rally of the Bhim Army is planned two days ahead of the anniversary. In order to prevent a recurrence of last year’s incidents, the administration and the state government has beefed up security arrangements. Police are keeping an eye on provocative messages circulating on social media, and has also made a few preventive detentions.

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.