By Niteen Sampat Ghodke.
Here’s a brief history of the Koregaon Bhima battle that will help you understand this:
The Battle of Koregaon (Bhima Koregaon battle) was fought between the British East India Company and the Peshwa’s army at Koregaon Bhima on January 1, 1818.
Legend has it that about 500 Mahar soldiers under the East India Company clashed with a 25,000-strong army of the Peshwa Bajirao II.
The Mahars, at this point, were considered an untouchable community and were not recruited in the army by the peshwas.
Despite this, as per the Dalit version of the Koregaon Bhima battle, the Mahars approached Peshwa Bajirao II to let them join his army against the British. Their offer was turned down. That is when the Mahars approached the British, who welcomed them into their army.
The Battle of Koregaon ended with the British-led Mahar soldiers defeating the peshwa. The victory was not just of a battle for the Mahars, but a win against caste-based discrimination and oppression itself.
In 1851, the British erected a memorial pillar at Koregaon Bhima to honour the soldiers — mostly Mahars — who had died in the battle.
On January 1, 1927, Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar started the ritual of holding a commemoration at the site of this pillar, that is repeated every year.
The violent acts
While Dalits in Maharashtra organised a commemoration of the 200th anniversary of Bhima Koregaon battle on January 1, which symbolises the victory of Mahar Dalits over upper-caste Peshwas. Every year 1 lakh Dalits gather at Bhima Koregaon, but this year for the celebration of 200th anniversary more than 5 lakhs Dalits gathered, and right-wing activists attacked the participants of the event.
One person was killed, seven were injured including four policemen, and over 200 buses and 100 cars damaged due to the attacks in Pune and Mumbai by the right-wing groups.
Next day a state-wide bandh was underway in Maharashtra after a call was given by Dalit leaders to protest the violence that engulfed the state.
The Pune police filed a case against Milind Ekbote and Sambhaji Bhide, founders of the right-wing groups Hindu Ekta Aghadi and Shivraj Pratishthan Hindustan respectively along with others under the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act, Arms Act, Section 307 (attempt to murder) of IPC (Indian Penal Code) and rioting. Members of these Hindutva organisations have reportedly been the forerunners of the recent violence against Dalits in the state.
Plotted violence? Role of Milind Ekbote and Sambhaji Bhide
Three days before the Bhima Koregaon anniversary, on December 29, Ekbote and Bhide along with the members of their groups had desecrated the Samadhi of the Dalit icon Govind Gaikwad in Wadhu village of Pune district.
Following this, while the celebrations at the Bhima Koregaon was taking place, Hindutva groups led a procession in the village causing violent clashes. Later, right-wing groups have created a riot-like situation in parts of the state.
This is not the first time that the Ekbote-Bhide duo is accused of leading riots in the name of Hindutva. The Mumbai Mirror has reported that 56-year old Milind Ekbote, former BJP corporator of Pune is known for his communal activities. His organization Hindu Ekta Aghadi has been at the forefront of anti- Valentine’s day protests in the state.
Sambhaji Bhide, 85, formerly an RSS pracharak (a leader), had floated his own organization Shivraj Pratishthan Hindustan in the 1980s. Prime Minister Narendra Modi once called Bhide his “Guruji” while campaigning for 2014 general elections.
The Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh’s leader, Prakash Ambedkar, said that the Maharashtra government “failed” in controlling the violence.
So far, Union Minister of State for Social Justice Ramdas Athawale has demanded police protection for Dalits in the wake of the violence.
Meanwhile, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has ordered an inquiry, and asked people “not to believe in rumours”.
The prime minister of India is silent on the incident.
Reasons for Violence
- Since last 100 of years both Communists and Ambedkarites in India fights against this Hindutva Groups separately, The Hindutva groups believe in the cast-based system and the cast is the root cause of discrimination, riots i.e. whole struggle.
Now since last 3 years, Communists and Ambedkarites fight together against Manuvadi (Hindutva Groups). Hence the power of struggle gets increased which makes these Hindutva Groups depressed and makers of more violence.
- In India, there is a wave in which all leftists, Ambedkarites, Purogamis (Who believe the teaching of Fule, Shahu, Ambedkar) and opposition parties who believe in Constitution come together against ruling party BJP and its group RSS. They want to break this unity through fighting people on casts.
Niteen Sampat Ghodke
Akhil Bhartiy Rashtraseva Brigade
Note: In this article, Mahar, Dalit are Buddhist, all these come under the Ambedkarites movement in India.
 One lakh is a unit in the Indian numbering system equal to one hundred thousand.
 A bandh is a general strike in India.
 Hindutva is a rightist nationalist ideology
 A Samadhi is the tomb of a holy person or saint in India.
 BJP – Bharatiya Janata Party (Indian People Party), is one of the two major political parties in India.
 RSS – Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (National Patriotic Organisation), is an Indian right-wing, Hindu nationalist, paramilitary volunteer organization.
 Reference to the Ambedkarite Party of India, whose social support are the Dalits.