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Bhima Koregaon battle anniversary: Ambedkar's grandson pays tribute to 'Vijay Stambh'

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Pune, Jan 1: Security has been tightened in Bhima Koregaon on Tuesday on the 201st anniversary of the Bhima Koregaon battle. People visited 'Vijay Stambh' - the memorial built in honour of Mahar soldiers who fought against Peshwa Baji Rao II.

Security tightened in Bhima Koregaon on the 201st anniversary of the Bhima Koregaon battle. Courtesy: ANI news

According to reports, at least 5,000 police personnel, 1200 Home Guard jawans, 12 companies of the State Reserve Police Force (SRPF) and 2,000 Dalit volunteers are deployed in and around Perne village where people are paying tributes at the war memorial.

Bhim Army chief and dalit leader Chandrashekhar Azad is slated to visit Koregaon Bhima on January 1. He had said he would visit the place even if the state government uses force to stop him. Speaking to the media, Azad said he will visit Koregaon Bhima even if the government uses force to stop him.

Earlier, Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh leader Prakash Ambedkar, the grandson of Dalit icon B R Ambedkar, was among the first politicians to offer his tribute at the Jay Stambh this morning.

It may be recalled that last year violence erupted in Pune on January 1 when Dalit groups were marking the bicentenary of the Bhima-Koregaon battle. Dalit leaders commemorate the British victory as it is believed that soldiers from the Mahar community were part of the East India Company's forces. Normal life was crippled in Maharashtra due to a bandh called by Dalit groups to protest the violence in Koregaon Bhima.

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The Koregaon Bhima battle, the British Army, comprising mainly of Dalit Mahar soldiers, had defeated the Peshwas. The Koregaon pillar inscription features the names of the 49 Company soldiers killed in the battle. Twenty-two of these names end with the suffix -nac (or -nak), which was used exclusively by the people of Mahar caste. The obelisk was featured on the Mahar Regiment's crest until Indian Independence. While it was built by the British as a symbol of their own power, today it serves as a memorial of the Mahars.

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