Pune (Maharashtra): Thousands of Dalits from all over Maharashtra, along with Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar and Bahujan Vanchit Aghadi chief Prakash Ambedkar gathered here to celebrate the 202nd anniversary of the historic Koregaon-Bhima War, here on Wednesday.
Union Minister of State for Social Justice Ramdas Athawale, who is the chief of Republican Party of India, Maharashtra Ministers Nitin Raut (Congress), Jitendra Awhad (Nationalist Congress Party) and others are expected to join the celebrations later on Wednesday.
Since dawn, the Dalits who had started arriving in Koregaon-Bhima since Tuesday, converged at the Victory Pillar (obelisk) erected here, and later Ajit Pawar and Ambedkar also offered floral tributes.
In the famous Koregaon-Bhima War of January 1, 1818, a small 800-strong force comprising the Mahar caste of the Bombay Native Infantry of the East India Company confronted a battalion of the huge 28,000 men army of the Bajirao Peshwa II, which retreated after a 12-hour long fight.
Since then, every year, thousands of Dalits from all over Maharashtra and other parts of the country gather here to commemorate the British forces' victory over the Peshwa's army.
In view of the ongoing countrywide protests, the Pune district police and administration have made stringent security arrangements to ensure peaceful celebrations with over 10,000 police and some 500 officers deployed in and around Koregaon-Bhima since Tuesday.
All schools and colleges are shut for the day, the traditional weekly market has been cancelled, the Pune-Ahmednagar highway has been closed or restricted for traffic, and all sensitive spots are being monitored by CCTVs and drones.
Ahead of Wednesday's celebrations, the police have served notices to over 250 WhatsApp group admins and around a dozen pages were deleted from Facebook to prevent spread of misleading information via social media networks.
Besides, the Pune Police had slapped notices to more than 725 people, including right-wing leaders like Sambhaji Bhide Guruji and Milind Ekbote and banned their entry to the village.
The initial plans of the Bhim Army to take out a rally here were dropped as its leader Chandrasekhar Azad is booked for the CAA protests.