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Days ahead of Bhima Koregaon anniversary, Pune district administration escalates security

Pune District Magistrate, Naval Kishore Ram, appealed to the people to refrain from falling prey to false messages on social media.

Days ahead of Bhima Koregaon anniversary, Pune district administration escalates security

A week ahead of the anniversary of 1818 Battle of Bhima Koregaon in Maharashtra's Pune district, authorities on Wednesday cited details on the preparations. Pune District Magistrate, Naval Kishore Ram, appealed to the people to refrain from falling prey to false messages on social media.

The announcement comes ahead of the Bhima Koregaon incident anniversary on January 1. The District Magistrate informed that the security for this year has been increased by 10-15 times. He added that there is an active plan and preventive detentions have also been done.

"We appeal to people to not fall for false messages on social media. This year 10-15 times more security will be at place, there’s an active plan, we’ve also done preventive detentions," said Naval Kishore Ram.

The area near the 'Vijay Stambh' and around it will be under the Maharashtra government from December 22 to January 12, as directed by the Bombay High Court. The directive has been issued so that proper preparations can be done for the January 1 'Vijay Diwas' event.

After January 12, the state government has to return the place in the same condition as received.

On January 1, Dalits visit the war memorial at Bhima Koregaon on 200th anniversary of the decisive battle between forces of the Peshwa and the British East India Company came under attack on January 1 this year, leading to protests across the state. Dalits commemorate the 1818 battle as the victorious British forces included a large number of Mahar soldiers. Mahars are a prominent Dalit community in Maharashtra.

Some right-wing organisations had opposed the commemoration of the East India Company's victory as it ended the Peshwa rule in Pune.

As per the records, the first battalion of the Mahar regiment was established in Belgaum on October 1, 1941. 

The government also fears fresh trouble as Dalits will be visiting the war memorial on January 1 like every year.

Minister of State for Social Justice Dilip Kamble said apprehending fresh attempts to rekindle the controversy, the government has held meetings with all stakeholders including sarpanchs (village heads) of local villages. There would be elaborate security at the memorial and in surrounding areas, he said.

A sarpanch belonging to the NCP has issued a diktat that shops and eateries in the area should be shut down on January 1 in defiance of a government order that all these establishments should remain open, he said.

Taking no chances, the government, through the Babasaheb Ambedkar Research and Training Institute, has made arrangements to provide food to those who visit the memorial, he said.

Another source said the government has denied permission to the Elgar Parishad to organise any function at the site.