The Home Department, on Tuesday, appealed to the Ambedkarite Dalits not to gather in large numbers at the Bhima Koregaon war memorial to pay their respect at the Vijay Sthamb (victory pillar) on January 1 in view of the coronavirus pandemic. The department wants people to observe the day at low key on the lines of Ganapati, Navratri and Eid, amongst others. The programme should be symbolic.
The department has asked the Pune district administration to introduce curbs to avoid the gathering of people, especially with the detection of a new variant of coronavirus in the United Kingdom. People should pay their tribute through Doordarshan or other media platforms. They should preferably remain at home and pay their respect to the victory pillar.
According to the department, the organisation of rallies or putting up makeshift stalls for food and books are strictly prohibited at the war memorial and in its vicinity.
Pune Collector Rajesh Deshmukh has reviewed the arrangements for the annual program at the memorial. He has also urged the people to avoid large public gatherings and organize this program symbolically.
District Superintendentof Police Abhinav Deshmukh has also urged the people to cooperate with the administration for maintaining law and order.
The memorial commemorates the 1818 battle of Bhima Koregaon in which British forces, which included soldiers from the Dalit `Mahar’ community, defeated the Peshwa’s army. Dalits look upon the battle as the beginning of self-assertion by the oppressed classes.
There were caste riots in the area during the bicentenary celebrations of the battle on January 1, 2018.