Stage all set for Bhima Koregaon battle anniversary, 10K personnel on ground to maintain law and order
The government has covered Bhima Koregaon in a cloak of security ahead of the 202nd anniversary of a British-era war to avoid any recurrence of violence that rocked the celebrations two years ago and left one person dead.
With roughly a million people assembling at the spot last year, Pune rural police and district administration have chalked out a detailed security plan that includes round-the-clock aerial drone surveillance and a 10,000 security contingent to maintain law and order.
The administration has arranged ten huge parking lots to cater to parking requirement of a large number of vehicles entering the area. The entire 10-km stretch of the road leading to the Bhima Koregaon obelisk will be under 24-hour surveillance.
Four gigantic high-mast lamps are being erected at the Vijay Stambh, or victory pillar, premises for sufficient light for visitors.
Pune district collector Naval Kishore Ram said all necessary steps were being taken to provide basic amenities like water, toilets and other necessities. “We have made elaborate security arrangement. Barricading is being done for better crowd management and strong security measures have been undertaken for the event,” Ram said.
The district administration has already announced a ban on sloganeering and carrying placards and banners relating to the new citizenship law and the National Register of Citizens at the celebrations.
Police have also issued notices to at least 160 people, including right-wing leaders Milind Ekbote, Sambhaji Bhide (both named in an FIR about the January 1, 2018 violence) and members of the left-wing cultural group, Kabir Kala Manch (KKM).
Pune rural superintendent of police Sandip Patil said, “Steps have been taken to ensure round-the-clock security around Vijay Stambh and Vadhu Budruk. We are taking all necessary security initiatives to ensure smooth conduct of the event.”
Security was also bolstered at the tomb of Govind Gopal Mahar, whom Dalits believe performed the last rites of 17th century Maratha king Chhatrapati Sambhaji.
Visitors are being stopped near a police outpost and their details being taken before allowing them near the shrine in Vadhu Budruk village, which was visited by 2,50,000 people in 2019.
Visitors are prevented from clicking pictures and the access of even journalists is restricted. The special branch (SB) of the Pune rural police is keeping a tab on all visitors. Currently, the shrine has a blue canopy and an armed state security personnel is permanently stationed to guard it.
Announcements by district administration
Ban on vehicles ten kilometres from the obelisk at Bhima Koregaon for streamlining the crowd flow on January 1, 2020
Facilities for visitors
-100 water tankers
-500 mobile portable toilets
-12 OPD centres for medical emergencies
-260 buses for ferrying the devouts to the Dalit war memorial from the parking lots on Dec 31 and Jan 1
-Rs 24 lakh spent on constructing four high mast lamps in the campus of the obelisk
-Rs 48 lakh spent on installation of streetlights
-Shikrapur: 8 lots
-Perne: 8 lots
“The administration has taken utmost care for the provision of facilities to the visitors and all necessary precautions have been taken for their security.”
-Naval Kishore Ram, district collector