PUNE: A 28-year-old man was killed when clashes erupted between villagers of Koregaon Bhima, Pabal and Shikrapur and Dalits celebrating the victory of the outnumbered British — their numbers comprising some Dalits — over Peshwa Bajirao II‘s army in the battle of Koregaon Bhima on January 1, 1818.
Twenty-five vehicles were torched and more than 50 damaged in the clashes near Perne Phata on Pune-Ahmednagar highway, about 30km from Pune.
Police said the deceased victim’s body had been sent for autopsy. The torched vehicles included buses and fourwheelers, including a police van, police added.
Sanaswadi, near Koregaon Bhima, was the worst hit. Two companies of the CRPF, summoned on Monday morning, were stationed at Shikrapur to prevent any further trouble.
Decades ago, the British had erected a ‘jaystambh’ (victory pillar) to commemorate their triumph in the Koregaon Bhima war. It later became a symbol of Dalit assertion. Every year, thousands of Dalits come here to pay homage.
The Republican Party of India (Athwale) had organised a special programme to commemorate 200 years of the Koregaon Bhima battle on Monday, where Maharashtra guardian minister Girish Bapat, BJP MP Amar Sable, deputy mayor Siddhartha Dende, and other RPI leaders were present.
Heavy security was already in place as the villagers were opposed to Monday’s rally. IGP (Kolhapur range) Vishwas Nangre-Patil said there was tension in the area since morning.
“Trouble broke out after a few men bearing saffron flags arrived in the area. Later, villagers set ablaze eight vehicles on the highway while some pelted stones at the vehicles,” he said.
Hundreds of vehicles got stranded in a massive traffic jam on both sides of the highway from Pune to Perne Phata and from Chakan to Shikrapur after the clashes.
Source : timesofindia