Koregaon Bhima back in focus as 202nd anniversary nears

Koregaon Bhima back in focus as 202nd anniversary nears

Policemen accompany the Dalits protestors as they stage a protest against the violence in Bhima Koregaon area of Pune, in Mumbai on Tuesday. Photo/PTI

With nationwide protests against CAA-NRC and a new government in power in Maharashtra, Koregaon Bhima in Pune district is back in focus. 

The Pune district police and administration have beefed up security arrangements at Koregaon Bhima in Shirur tehsil along the Pune-Ahmednagar road ahead of the 202nd anniversary of the Anglo-Maratha war. 

January 1 marks the anniversary of the Anglo-Maratha war where soldiers, belonging to the Mahar caste, of the Bombay Native Infantry of the East India Company defeated the Peshwas. Every year thousands of Dalits gather at the Jay Stambha (victory pillar near Perne Phata) to commemorate the victory of British forces over the Peshwa army in 1818. 

In 2018, which was the 200th anniversary of the Anglo-Maratha war, saw lakhs of people attend it. A violent caste clash broke out in Koregaon Bhima back then that had led to the death of one person

The government had found that the 2017 December 31 Elgar Parishad meeting at Shaniwarwada in Pune had triggered the violence and had blamed the CPI (Maoists) for fomenting casteist trouble across India.

Ahead of the 202nd anniversary, the Pune police have issued notices to over 160 people, including right-wing leaders Milind Ekbote and Sambhaji Bhide, following which the duo would not be allowed in Koregaon Bhima on January 1, 2020. The Bhim Army too had made plans to undertake a rally but its leader, Chandra Shekar Azad, was recently arrested in New Delhi for his anti-CAA-NRC protests.

Meanwhile, NCP President Sharad Pawar has asked the Maha Vikas Aghadi government to set up a Special Investigation Team to look into the action of Pune police that has booked and arrested civil rights defenders and human rights activists. 

According to Pawar, a serving or retired police officer or a sitting or ex-judge could head the probe.

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