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Bhima-Koregaon village prepares for historic day

According to authorities, more than 5,000 policemen, besides contingents of the State Reserve Police Force and the Home Guards will regulate the crowds gathering near the Bhima Koregaon obelisk.   | Photo Credit: PTI

Lakhs of devotees, neo-Buddhists, members of Ambedkarite outfits, politicians, students and other visitors are expected to congregate near the ransthamb or victory pillar in Bhima-Koregaon village for the 202nd anniversary of the Bhima-Koregaon battle of 1818 on New Year’s Day on Wednesday.

With the January 1, 2018, clashes casting a shadow over the festivities, the Pune Rural Police and district administration are taking no chances and are keeping a tight vigil over Perne, Vadhu Budruk, Sanaswadi and other villages in the vicinity of Bhima-Koregaon, which were witness to the clashes.

According to authorities, more than 5,000 policemen, besides contingents of State Reserve Police Force and Home Guards, will regulate the crowds gathering near the obelisk.

Facebook pages with potentially inflammatory material have been deleted, while the district administration has discouraged protests pertaining to the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC) at the venue.

As a further precautionary measure, the police will suspend internet services in the immediate vicinity of the Bhima-Koregaon ransthamb, erected at the site of the 1818 battle, to prevent the spread of rumours. “It is not about suppressing [anti-CAA-NRC] protests, but we are anxious to see the festivities are conducted without any incidents. The event is about paying homage to the martyrs of the historic Bhima-Koregaon battle and we do not want boards pertaining to other issues being raised at the spot, which might cause trouble,” said Pune District Collector Naval Kishore Ram.

Superintendent of Police (Rural) Sandip Patil said notices had been sent to all gram panchayats near Bhima-Koregaon saying they should not put up banners or hoardings with potentially offensive political or historical content.

“Those who attempt to install such hoardings will face strict action. The police are closely monitoring social media and stern action will be taken against those uploading content deliberately calculated to disturb the peace. I appeal to people not to believe in rumours floating on social media,” said Mr. Patil.

As a precautionary measure, the authorities have issued notices to administrators of 250 WhatsApp groups, warning them of severe action if any socially divisive or inflammatory content is posted on their respective groups. Fifteen Facebook pages have been deleted while police have removed more than 25 TikTok videos of a potentially offensive nature. More than 700 people have been detained in areas under the Shikrapur and Lonikund police stations, said a source.

The Pune Rural Police had already issued prohibitory orders under Sections 144, 107, 110 and more of the Criminal Procedure Code against Hindutva leaders Milind Ekbote and Sambhaji Bhide — whose names figured prominently in the January 1, 2018, clashes — and 150 others, directing them not to enter Bhima-Koregaon and adjacent villages ahead of the anniversary celebrations.

Traffic along the Ahmednagar-Pune highway would be diverted from midnight on Tuesday to midnight on January 1, Mr. Patil said.

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Printable version | Oct 27, 2020 3:14:13 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/security-tightened-for-bhima-koregaon-anniversary/article30446192.ece

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