The Mumbai and Pune police have tightened security as lakhs of Dalits will celebrate the 201st anniversary of the historic Bhima Koregaon battle on January 1, 2019. Amidst this heavy security, there have been reports that Maharashtra police have seized live cartridges and other weapons near Thane.
Keeping the 2018 clashes in mind, about 5,000 police personnel have been deployed in and around Bhima-Koregaon, to maintain the security. Besides, companies of State Reserve Police Force, over 1200 Home Guards are also deployed. Social media is also being monitored.
Last year, the Dalit groups had organised ‘Elgaar Parishad’ on December 31 at Shaniwarwada in Pune to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Bhima Koregaon battle.
This was an event to celebrate the victory of the British East India Company over an army led by Peshwa Baji Rao II of the Maratha empire. 500 Dalit Mahar soldiers had participated in that battle and in the later years it has been propagated as a symbol of ‘Dalit victory over Brahmin Peshwas’.
However, last year this event was marred by serious violence in the Pune district, which resulted in the death of one person, leaving several injured.
Owing to this, the Pune rural police have taken preventive action against 1211 persons under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) of 1973, for providing a safe and secure environment for lakhs of Dalits who are going to visit the victory memorial at Bhima Koregaon on January 1.
Sandip Patil, Pune Superintendent of Police, said that secret cameras embedded in helmets and kept in pockets of the policemen will be used to track down miscreants as a part of heightened security measures around Bhima Koregaon.
Bhim Army president, Chandrashekar Azad, has been detained and has been banned from addressing public meetings in the two cities. Azad has termed it an “undeclared emergency”.
Deccan Herald quoted NCP MLA, Dr Jitendra Ahwad, as saying, “What the government has done is wrong. Azad was prevented even from visiting Chaityabhoomi.”
On the other hand, rural police in Pune has taken a call on not allowing Shiv Prathistan founder, Manohar Bhide and Samantha Hindu Aghadi founder, Milind Ekbote to enter the villages for the next ten days.
A special team of Maharashtra Police has been investigating the Elgar Parishad and the persons behind the violence that took place last year. The police had alleged that the Elgar Parishad had incited violence that gripped the city in the following days.
The Pune Police in a nation-wide crackdown, had raided houses of eight individuals with suspected Maoist links in connection with the Elgaar Parishad and arrested four ‘Urban Naxals’ along with Delhi-based Gautam Navlakha on August 28 under sections of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and IPC in the Elgaar Parishad case, alleging that they were part of a larger conspiracy of the banned CPI-Maoist to overthrow the Indian government.
The alleged ‘Urban Naxals’ arrested by the police were reportedly involved in inciting violence in Bhima-Koregaon area on January 1, 2018.