Police arranged tight security for the 201st anniversary of battle in the village
The 201st anniversary of the Bhima-Koregaon battle passed off without any incident as lakhs of Ambedkarites from across Maharashtra and India congregated near the commemorative Bhima-Koregaon ‘Ranstambh’ (victory pillar) on Tuesday under heavy security cover. The Pune Rural Police and the district administration pulled out all the stops to ensure that the event passed off without any incident. Officials estimated 8 to 10 lakh visitors this year — perhaps the largest since the Bhima-Koregaon Ranstambh Seva Sangh, which organises the ceremony, was formed in 2005 to keep alive the memory of this episode.
Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh chief Prakash Ambedkar, grandson of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar, was among the first Dalit leaders to lay a wreath near the obelisk at Perne. Speaking to reporters, Mr. Ambedkar said the ‘Elgaar Parishad’ of December 31 last year was an attempt to bridge the rift between various communities. “Instead, the investigation conducted by the Pune city police turned the objective of the Elgaar conclave upside down. The State government targeted the men and women like retired judges B.G. Kolse-Patil, P.B. Sawant and Harshali Potdar, who were behind organising the conference, weaving an absurd narrative of ‘urban naxalism’,” he said. Internet services were suspended to prevent the spread of inflammatory messages. Drones and CCTV cameras were in place near the tombs of the Maratha King Sambhaji and that of Govind Ganpat Mahar in Vadhu Budruk village — the major flashpoints of violence last year.