Pune: Bishop of Pune diocese, Thomas Dabre has appealed to churches and institutions in the west Maharashtra city to hold prayers for "peace and harmony" during the 201st anniversary of the Koregaon Bhima battle that falls on January 1.
Against the backdrop of caste clashes around Koregaon Bhima on January 1, 2018, a heavy police bandobast is put in place around villages near "jay stambh" or the victory pillar which is visited by lakhs of people, mainly Dalits, to commemorate the 1818 battle between the British and the Peshwas.
One person was killed and several others injured in the violence on January 1 which had broken out a day after the Elgaar Parishad conclave was held in historic Shaniwarwada in Pune.
"As the Bishop of the Diocese of Ponna (Pune), I have issued a circular to around 60 churches and 20 institutions in the city to hold prayers for peace and harmony to be prevailed in Koregaon Bhima and in the Pune district during the 201st anniversary of the Koregaon Bhima battle," said Dabre.
Despite whatever differences we have have, be it social, political and religious, we are Indians first and we should go beyond all these differences and considered ourselves fellow citizens, he said.
"All should strive to live in complete harmony, unity, peace. As fellow citizens, one should not indulge in violence and rioting activities," he said.
In the Koregaon Bhima battle, the British Army, comprising mainly of dalit Mahar soldiers, had defeated the Peshwas.
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.
Meanwhile, the bishop said there are over 80 churches and institutions under Diocese of Ponna and the circular was issued to all of them on Sunday.
Besides, the diocese also appealed the churches to hold prayers for the victims of recent tsunami in Indonesia.