Tight security as over 15 lakh pay tributes to mark 200th anniversary of Bhima-Koregaon battle

Jan 02, 2019, 09:00 IST | Chaitraly Deshmukh

The police had kept a tight vigil with a force of more than 10,000, two teams of the State Reserve Police and 200 officers from 16 agencies

Tight security as over 15 lakh pay tributes to mark 200th anniversary of Bhima-Koregaon battle
The mob at the victory pillar

A year after clashes at the event to mark the 200th anniversary of the battle of Koregaon-Bhima, over 15 lakh people arrived to observe it in a peaceful manner. The police had kept a tight vigil with a force of more than 10,000, two teams of the State Reserve Police and 200 officers from 16 agencies. Internet signals were also jammed for a while.

People had been arriving at the spot from Monday, and were happy with the administration's action to make them feel safe and secure, and blamed their leaders for the clashes. A group of local teenagers who called themselves shantidoot, joined the police and administration in the arrangements. They said they wanted to spread the message of peace and harmony.

The area assumed the air of a pilgrimage spot with folk songs being sung in Marathi, Telugu, Kannada and Hindi. People also walked to the spot singing about Dr B R Ambedkar. Dalits observe the Koregaon-Bhima battle anniversary as Valour Day. They gather in large numbers to pay tributes at the Vijay stambha (victory pillar), raised by the British regime for the soldiers killed in the battle at Koregaon-Bhima.

Bhante Mahendra Bodi who has been coming from Amravati for past 20 years to pay tribute, said, "The common people come to this place but none of the political leaders from our Dalit community nor ministers do anything for us. They just want to fill their own stomachs." A civil engineer, Dharshsinh Solanki from Ahmedabad, who has been coming to the spot for the past decade, said, "The police and administration have coped well this year. Last year there were few police so due to rumours the clashes sparked off."

Inspector General of Police Vishwas Nangare Patil said, "Our efforts to maintain peace have paid off. Local villagers had also helped." Pune collector Naval Kumar Kishore said, "We had constituted a cyber team to monitor the cyber crime-related issues including hate speeches and rumours across the state. Our officers took cognisance of the issues, enlightened the people, and if needed, took criminal action."

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