Mumbai: The two-member Judicial Commission was on Friday informed that there was no proper police bandobast at Bhima-Koregaon this year and thus there was a ‘fearful atmosphere’ in the area. The Commission was further informed that youth holding bhagwa flags and sporting saffron tilak on their foreheads, were pelting stones, burning tyres and disrupting the event.
The commission comprising of Chief Justice (retd.) JN Patel and Sumit Mullick, the former chief secretary is hearing the Bhima-Koregaon matter. This comes in the testimony of Tanaji Sable (53), who is one of the eyewitnesses of the January 1 Bhima-Koregaon riots in Pune. Sable, a resident of Ramabai Colony, Ghatkopar, had visited Bhima-Koregaon (like every year) with members of Bharatiya Bauddh Mahasabha, a local organisation, to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the battle of Bhima-Koregaon.
“This year the atmosphere was a bit different as all shops were shut. Some youth with bhagwa flags in their hands were shouting slogans in name of Shivaji Maharaj. There was no proper police bandobast like every year. Thus, there was a fearful atmosphere,” Sable told the commission. “This was not a usual sight at Bhima-Koregaon. Every year there is adequate police bandobast and cops usually guide us to the Vijay Sthamb and other places. This time there was no one to guide us and instead an old farmer showed us the way to go towards the Vijay Sthamb,” Sable said.
He further said that after paying homage to the Vijay Stambh, the war memorial, he saw some youngsters with bhagwa flags in hand and wearing saffron tilaks, were burning tyres and pelting stones. “On our way back to our bus, I saw a group of men on the opposite side of the Bhima river, sporting saffron tilaks and holding bhagwa flags. They were chanting slogans. Some of them were burning tyres and some were pelting stones. Some were shouting at us asking us not to go ahead,” Sable recounted the incident.