Thousands of people, belonging to Bahujan and Dalits, on Tuesday flocked the ‘Jay Stambh’ memorial in Pune district to pay tributes on the 201st anniversary of the Koregaon Bhima battle. ‘Jay Stambh’, a memorial of victory, is about 30 km northeast of Pune, where on January 1, 1818 battle between the British and the Peshwas took place, has attained legendary stature in Dalit history.
In the backdrop of last year’s violence where one was killed and several other injured following caste clashes, the district administration stepped up security to avoid any untoward incident. Thousands of police personnel, Home Guard jawans, 12 companies of the State Reserve Police Force (SRPF) and 2,000 Dalit volunteers are deployed in and around Perne village where people are paying tributes at the war memorial, police said.
The ‘jay stambh’ was erected by the British as a memorial for soldiers killed in the Koregaon Bhima battle. In the Dalit narrative, the 1818 battle is the victory over caste supremacy as the British Army comprising a large contingent of Dalit Mahar soldiers had defeated the forces of Peshwas–the Brahmin custodians of the Maratha kingdom.
Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh (BBM) leader Prakash Ambedkar, the grandson of B R Ambedkar, was among the first politicians to offer his tribute at the Jay Stambh this morning. After laying a wreath at the memorial, Ambedkar hoped the commemoration event will pass off peacefully. Ambedkar said the number of visitors is likely to swell this year.
Ambedkar said, “The reason behind the surge is because the likes of retired SC judge P B Sawant, retired HC judge B G Kolse Patil and some students (Kabir Kala Manch) took the history of the Koregaon Bhima battle to rural Maharashtra.”
Besides large-scale police deployment, 500 CCTV cameras, 11 drone cameras and 40 video cameras, “Internet services in and around Perne village have been suspended,” special Inspector General of Police Vishwas Nangre-Patil said.