Pune: The event to mark the 200th anniversary of the Bhima Koregaon battle in Pune district, in which the British Army comprising Dalits had defeated upper-caste Peshwas, was marred by incidents of stone pelting and vandalism today.
The incident occurred in Bhima Koregaon in afternoon when people were heading towards a war memorial in the village, the police said.
The violence erupted after a group and some members of the crowd on its way to visit the memorial had an argument.
“Stone pelting started after the argument. During the violence, vehicles and a house in the vicinity was damaged,” a police officer deployed for bandobast at Bhima Koregaon said.
He said the police blocked the vehicular traffic on Pune-Ahmbednagar highway for sometime following the incident.
The traffic was finally resumed in evening.
The situation in the village is under control now.
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“More police personnel, including companies of the SRPF, have been deployed to avoid any untoward incident,” the officer said.
He said mobile phone networks were blocked for some time to stop the circulation of inflammatory messages.
The Battle of Bhima Koregaon was fought on January 1, 1818. The British army, which had a large contingent of Dalit Mahars, had defeated the Peshwas.
Some Dalit leaders and thinkers view it as a victory of oppressed classes over the upper-caste establishment of those times.
A Peshwa was the equivalent of a modern prime minister in the Maratha empire. Originally, the Peshwas served as subordinates to the Chhatrapati (the Maratha king), but later, they became the de facto leaders of the Marathas.
Earlier in the day, Dalit leader and independent MLA from Gujarat, Jignesh Mevani visited the memorial in Bhima Koregaon.
Yesterday, he attended ‘Elgaar parishad’ in Pune to commemorate the ‘victory battle’.
Police have appealed to people to maintain calm and not to believe in rumours.
Section 144 of CrPc was already imposed in the area.