Koregaon Bhima event: 'No placards on CAA, NRC allowed'

Koregaon Bhima event: 'No placards on CAA, NRC allowed'

Representative image.

Caught off-guard during the January 1, 2018 cast clashes around Koregaon Bhima village and against the backdrop of anti-CAA agitations, Pune district officials have decided to not allow any sloganeering or placards on the new citizenship law and NRC for the January 1, 2020 event marking the 202nd anniversary of the 1818 battle.

District Collector Naval Kishore Ram said on Monday night that people can come to Koregaon Bhima and pay tribute to the war memorial 'Jay Stambh' purely to mark the event.

"We will not allow any placards, banners or sloganeering on the issue of Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC). People can come to Koregaon Bhima, pay their tributes to the 'Jay Stambh' and return peacefully. We do not want them to bring in any other theme into their visit," he told reporters.

Ram said they will ensure that the crowd is not used to disturb peace.

"We will not allow the crowd to be used for CAA, NRC or any other issue," he said.

Another official said organisations seeking permission to hold meetings at the venue have been directed to ensure that no "inciting" speeches are made.

"We want that people should not bring up any other issues during the event," he said.

Violence broke out during the bicentenary celebrations of the Koregaon Bhima battle on January 1, 2018 in which one person was killed and several others were injured.

Pune Police have already issued notices to 163 people, including right wing leaders Milind Ekbote and Sambhaji Bhide, and members of Kabir Kala Manch, barring them from entering the district for four days ahead of the anniversary.

Ekbote was arrested in March 2018 for allegedly instigating and orchestrating the violence around Koregaon Bhima.

Bhide was also booked and named in the FIR, but never arrested.

"So far, we have issued notices to 163 people, including Bhide and Ekbote, and barred them from entering the district," Superintendent of Police Sandip Patil said.

The notices, as part of preventive action, have been issued to all those against whom cases have been registered in connection with the violence, he said.

Lakhs of people congregate every year at the 'Jay Stambh' (victory pillar) near Perne village to offer tributes on the anniversary of the battle, which was fought on January 1, 1818 between the British East India Company and the Peshwa faction of the Maratha Confederacy.

Later, Pune Police attributed the violence to the Elgar Parishad conclave held in Pune on December 31, 2017, where provocative speeches were allegedly made.

Police are also investigation alleged naxal links.

In Dalit narrative, the battle is a symbol of defeat of casteism as the Peshwas were Brahmin rulers whereas the soldiers who fought for the British belonged to the Mahar caste.

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