MUMBAI: Lakhs of people paid their tributes on Wednesday at the “Jaystambh” (victory pillar) in Perne village in Pune district of Maharashtra on the occasion of the 202nd anniversary of the Bhima Koregaon battle amidst tight security. The area had witnessed violent protests two years ago.
At least four lakh people have paid their respects till 3 pm at the memorial, which Dalits view as a symbol of their pride. Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi president Prakash Ambedkar, Union Minister Ramdas Athawale and several other leaders visited the ‘Jaystambh’.
As a precautionary measure, Internet services in and around Bhima Koregaon have been suspended. Violent clashes had broken out in the area around Bhima Koregaon on the 200th anniversary of the 1818 battle on January 1, 2018, in which one person was killed and several injured. Ajit urged people visiting the site to maintain peace.
“I appeal to people to come here and offer their tributes, but also maintain peace and do not believe in rumours,” the senior NCP leader said. When asked about the 2017 Elgaar Parishad case and NCP chief Sharad Pawar’s recent demand to withdraw cases against activists in connection with the 2018 Koregaon Bhima incident, Ambedkar said the stand of all the three ruling constituents — Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress — in the state government is of cooperation, which is welcoming.