To avoid repeat of the violence witnessed near the Koregaon Bhima war memorial in Pune district on January 1, 2018 one year later, police have taken preventive action against over 1,200 people. The action includes barring some persons from entering the area and ''externment" (eviction from the district) of some others, senior police officials said Saturday.
Those who have been prohibited from visiting Koregaon Bhima and the surrounding area, 40 km from Pune, include right-wing Hindu leader Milind Ekbote and members of the left-leaning cultural group Kabir Kala Manch (KKM).
Clashes had broken out on January 1, 2018 when Dalits visited Koregaon Bhima to commemorate 200th anniversary of the victory of the East India Company's forces -- which included Dalit Mahar soldiers -- over the Brahmin Peshwa's army. One person lost life in the violence.
Dalits, who look upon the defeat of Peshwa's army as a symbol of their emancipation, visit the Jay Stambh (victory pillar) at the site on January 1 every year. Right-wing organisations had opposed the celebration of the British victory on its bicentennial anniversary last time.
Addressing a joint press conference, Pune rural Superintendent of Police Sandip Patil said "preventive action" has been taken against 1,211 people under the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).
It includes action against 64 people who have been barred from visiting the surrounding area, he said.
Some of these people are facing serious cases in connection with the January 1 violence and "such people will be kept away from the event" this time, said the police officer.
Special Inspector General of Police (Kolhapur range) Vishwas Nangare-Patil and Pune district collector Naval Kishore Ram also addressed the press conference.
When asked if a notice has been served to another right-wing leader Sambhaji Bhide, who along with Ekbote is accused of instigating the violence of January 1, 2018, the police officials did not give any specific reply.
A senior police officer said later that Ekbote and members of the KKM have been barred from visiting the area.
Some members of the KKM are accused in the Elgar Parishad case. According to the police, provocative speeches at the Parishad (conclave), funded by Maoists, on December 31, 2017 triggered violence at Koregaon Bhima the next day.
Six persons have been "externed" from the district, the officials said. The Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act has been invoked against a gang operating in the district.
District collector Ram said that seven to ten lakh people are expected to visit the war memorial on January 1.
The administration has held several meetings with local people and taken measures to create a "positive environment", he said.
Nangare-Patil appealed people not to believe or spread rumours. Two months ago, several hate messages were making rounds on social media, following which the police took action against 45 people for spreading rumours, he said.
Asked if internet services will be suspended on January 1, he said it will depend on the situation.
Police check posts have been set up along the border of Pune district, he said.
Besides large-scale police deployment, 500 CCTV cameras, 11 drone cameras and 40 video cameras will monitor the area, he said.
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