Learning lessons from last year's violence, Maharashtra government has made massive security arrangements around the ‘Jaystambh’ war memorial at Bhima Koregaon where a mega rally will be held to mark the anniversary of the 1818 battle that saw lower caste soldiers fighting with the British and defeating the army of the upper caste Peshwas. As many as 5,000 police personnel, over 1,000 Home Guards and 12 companies of the Rapid Action Force and the State Reserve Police Force (SRPF) have been deployed near the war memorial. The enhanced security measures were taken to avoid the repeat of last year’s clashes between people of scheduled caste, tribes and the right-wingers.
“To avoid a repeat of that incident, the police have taken "preventive action" against over 1,200 people. The action includes barring some of them from entering the area, and forcing others to leave the district temporarily,” news agency PTI reported quoting a senior police officer.
Taking precautions, right-wing leader Milind Ekbote and members of the left-leaning cultural group Kabir Kala Manch (KKM), have been banned from visiting the place. However, Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad, who was denied permission to address a gathering in Pune on December 30, had said that he will visit the war memorial Tuesday on the 201st anniversary of the Bhima Koregaon battle.
Thousands of people are expected to reach the ‘Jaystambh’ war memorial on Tuesday and it was expected that the number of visitors could go higher than the last year. Earlier on the eve of the 201st anniversary of the Koregaon Bhima battle, thousands of visitors on Monday paid tribute at the ‘jayastambh’ near Perne village in Maharashtra’s Pune district amidst heavy security while locals accorded them a “warm” welcome and arranged for their food.
Around 18,000 to 20,000 visitors who have come from various parts of Maharashtra visited the victory pillar, police said. Contrary to the scene of January 1 this year when caste clashes had broken out around Koregaon Bhima village, the villagers were Monday seen welcoming the visitors with roses and water bottles, they said.