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Pawar blames Maharashtra government for Pune riots

Mumbai: Blaming the Maharashtra administration for lapses leading to Monday’s riots in Pune which left one dead, NCP President Sharad Pawar on Tuesday appealed for peace.

The violence erupted in the village of Koregaon-Bhima on January 1 during the 200th anniversary celebrations of the Anglo-Maratha War between the army of Peshwa Bajirao II with a small force of the East India Company that comprised a large number of Dalits.

“Why did the administration not take adequate precautions for this event which has been celebrated peacefully for 200 years? Due to its lapses, there was confusion and rumour-mongering, resulting in the violence,” the Nationalist Congress Party chief said.

Pawar suspected the involvement of anti-social elements taking advantage of the situation to indulge in violence, which started with stone-pelting. The administration was aware of the huge crowd coming for the event for the past three four days.

Several lakhs of Dalits had congregated around the Victory Pillar (Vijay Stambh) erected by the British in Sanaswadi village when suddenly stone pelting started, allegedly by some right-wing groups carrying saffron flags.

In the clashes that ensued between the two groups, more than 30 vehicles, including buses, police vans and private vehicles, were torched or damaged.

The police fired tear gas to control the mobs and prohibitory orders were imposed in the entire Pune district.

Rahul Fatangale, 28, from Nanded was killed in the incident. “This is highly condemnable. It is imperative for the political and social forces to deal with the situation calmly and without resorting to provocative statements that could worsen matters,” Pawar said.

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