2018 Bhima Koregaon violence

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2018 Dalit protests in Maharashtra
Bhima Koregaon protests
Date2 January 2018
Location
18°38′44″N 074°03′33″E / 18.64556°N 74.05917°E / 18.64556; 74.05917Coordinates: 18°38′44″N 074°03′33″E / 18.64556°N 74.05917°E / 18.64556; 74.05917
MethodsProtesting, rock throwing, arson, mobbing
Casualties
Death(s)1[2]
Injuries30[1]
Arrested300[1]
2018 Bhima Koregaon violence is located in Maharashtra
2018 Bhima Koregaon violence

The 2018 Bhima Koregaon stone pelting refers to attack on Mahars during an annual celebratory gathering at Bhima Koregaon to mark the 200th year of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon.[3] The gathering consisted largely of Mahars, and stone pelting by upper caste Maratha groups on the gathering resulted in death of 28-year old Rahul Patangale.[4] The aftermath consisted of various protests resulting in one death, 30 policemen being injured as well as over 300 people being detained. A Maharashtra bandh was called by Dalit groups on 3 January 2018.[5] Protests were staged all over Maharashtra. In Mumbai, suburban trains were affected due to which Dabbawalas suspended their services.[6]

Investigation by the police in the following months resulted in various arrests, such as that of Rona Wilson in June 2018 under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.[7] In August 2018 five activists, including Varavara Rao, Arun Ferreira, Sudha Bharadwaj and Gautam Navlakha, were picked up in simultaneous raids across the country, the police alleged that the activists had ties to Maoists, apart from links to the Bhima Koregaon incident.[8]

Background[edit]

Battle of Koregaon[edit]

The 1818 Battle of Koregaon is of legendary importance for the Dalits. On 1 January 1818, 800 troops of the British Army, with small number of Mahars (leather workers) predominant among them, defeated a numerically superior force of the Peshwa Baji Rao II. A victory pillar (Vijay Sthamb) was erected in Koregaon by the British, commemorating the dead soldiers. In 1928, the Dalit leader B. R. Ambedkar led the first commemoration ceremony here. Since then, on 1 January every year, Ambedkarite Dalits gather at Bhima Koregaon to celebrate their victory against the upper caste Peshwa regime, whom they see as their oppressors.[9][10][11][12][13][14]

Vadhu Budruk trigger[edit]

According to legend, Aurangzeb killed and mutilated Sambhaji in 1689.Govind Mahar, from Vadhu Budruk (a village near Bhima Koregaon) collected the body parts and organised the last rites. The memorial for Sambhaji is said to have been constructed by the Dalit Mahars of that village. Soon after, Govind Mahar’s tomb was constructed in the village after his death. But upper caste Marathas refused to accept the role played by Govind Gaikwad and other Mahars in the last rites of Sambhaji as Marathas of that village do have surname as Shivle (means Stitched), and were increasingly vocal about in the days prior to the January violence at Bhima Koregaon in 2018. They had specific objection to a sign at the site that acknowledged the contributions of the Mahars.[15][16]

January 2018 events[edit]

Prior to the commemoration, about 250 Dalit and Bahujan groups got together under the banner of "Elgar Parishad"[a] and organised a conference at Shaniwar Wada in Pune, the erstwhile seat of the Peshwas. The speakers included two retired judges and Jignesh Mevani, a newly elected member of the Gujarat Legislative Assembly. Meeting was organized to combat communalism and the rise in violence by Hindutva groups, particularly in the name of cow protection.[17]

The equating of Hindutva with the Peshwas is said to have irked the Hindu right-wing groups.[9]

On January 1, like every year, lakhs of Dalits poured into Bhima Koregaon. The commemoration has a record of being conducted peacefully and the village’s residents have a history of social harmony. But this year, tensions had begun to build in a neighboring village over the question of which community had conducted the last rites of Maratha ruler Sambhaji – the Mahars or the Marathas. The panchayat of Bhima Koregaon issued a notice asking residents to boycott the event by calling for all shops to remain shut that day.[18]

Protests[edit]

  • Dalit rights groups staged road blocks and protest demonstrations across Maharashtra.[19]
  • In several parts of Pune, Pimpri-Chinchwad and Ahmednagar, stone pelting was reported.[19]
  • A 16-year-old Dalit boy, Yogesh Prahlad Jadhav, was killed during the protest, allegedly due to injuries sustained by police caning.[20]

Aftermath[edit]

  • 2 January 2018 - An FIR was filed against 'Sambhaji' Bhide and Milind Ekbote for instigating violence on Dalits.[21]
  • February - The Supreme Court criticised the State government and probe agencies for the slow progress in their probe against Milind Ekbote, questioning the agencies’ claims that he was allegedly ‘untraceable’. Chief minister, Devendra Fadnavis said in the state assembly that the police had raided all hotels and lodges in Pune and Kolhapur in search of Ekbote, conducted combing operations, detained his followers and examined more than 100 call records but failed to locate him.[22]
  • 14 March 2018 - The District Rural Police of Pune arrested Milind Ekbote. The Supreme Court cancelled his interim bail plea after he did not cooperate with the probe agencies, refusing to hand over his mobile phone and despite five summons for interrogation.[23][24]
  • 22 April 2018 - A nineteen year old Dalit witness, Puja Sakat, whose house was burnt in the violence, was found dead in a well. Her family alleged that she was under intense pressure to withdraw her statement.[25] Her brother, Jaideep, also a witness, had been arrested by Pune Rural Police on charges of attempt to murder.[26]

The FINS report[edit]

  • March 2018 - An RSS-backed think tank called Forum for Integrated National Security (FINS), mainly consisting of retired army officers, released a report on the Bhima Koregaon riots. The report absolved the Hindu leaders Milind Ekbote and Sambhaji Bhide from direct involvement. Instead, it blamed the Maoists (ultra left-wing organisations) for instigating the Dalit activists. It also blamed the Maharashtra Police for "apathy" and overlooking evidence.[27][28][29][30][31]

Arrests of activists[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ The term "Elgar" means loud invitation or loud declaration, according Justice P. B. Sawant.[14]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Maharashtra protests: Over 30 cops injured, 300 persons detained". livemint.com. 4 January 2018.
  2. ^ "Maharashtra bandh: Minor boy killed as shutdown called by Dalit parties paralyses state". intoday.in. 3 January 2018.
  3. ^ Pol, Prabodhan (2018-01-04). "Understanding Bhima Koregaon". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 2018-09-01.
  4. ^ "Dalits protest death of 28-year-old in Bhima Koregaon clashes". Hindustantimes. 2018-01-02. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 2018-01-02.
  5. ^ PTI (2018-01-04). "Maharashtra protests: Over 30 cops injured, 300 persons detained". livemint.com/. Retrieved 2018-01-07.
  6. ^ Srinivasan, Madhuvanti (2018-01-04). "Trains hit, dabbawalas suspend services". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 2018-01-07.
  7. ^ "Bhima Koregaon: How and Why the January Violence Snowballed Into Arrest of Rights Activists". News18. Retrieved 2018-09-01.
  8. ^ "Bhima Koregaon violence probe: Police claim conclusive proof against activists, seize 'letters' planning 'big action' - Firstpost". firstpost.com. Retrieved 2018-09-01.
  9. ^ a b Bhima Koregaon: How and Why the January Violence Snowballed Into Arrest of Rights Activists, News18, 29 August 2018.
  10. ^ "Caste violence erupts in India over 200-year-old faultline". CNN. 5 January 2018. Retrieved 8 January 2018.
  11. ^ "Monument at Koregaon". The Indian Express. 2018-01-02. Retrieved 2018-01-07.
  12. ^ "How a British war memorial became a symbol of Dalit pride". The Hindu. 2 January 2018. Retrieved 8 January 2018.
  13. ^ Let’s Rewind 200 Years to Understand Bhima Koregaon Violence, The Quint, 4 January 2018.
  14. ^ a b Aarefa Johari, Abishek Dey, Mridula Chari & Shone Satheesh, From Pune to Paris: How a police investigation turned a Dalit meeting into a Maoist plot, Scroll.in, 1 September 2018.
  15. ^ Pol, Prabodhan (2018-01-04). "Understanding Bhima Koregaon". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 2018-09-01.
  16. ^ "Removal of Mahar samadhi board near Pune sparked clashes". The Indian Express. 2018-01-04. Retrieved 2018-09-01.
  17. ^ Aarefa Johari, Abhishek Dey. "From Pune to Paris: How a police investigation turned a Dalit meeting into a Maoist plot". Scroll.in. Retrieved 2019-04-15.
  18. ^ Aarefa Johari, Abhishek Dey. "From Pune to Paris: How a police investigation turned a Dalit meeting into a Maoist plot". Scroll.in. Retrieved 2019-04-15.
  19. ^ a b Banerjee, Shoumojit (2018-01-02). "Protests spread in Maharashtra post clashes during bicentenary celebrations of Bhima-Koregaon battle". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 2018-08-31.
  20. ^ "Maharashtra bandh: Minor boy killed as shutdown called by Dalit parties paralyses state". Retrieved 2018-01-07.
  21. ^ "Bhima Koregaon Violence: Petition Before Bombay HC Seeking Arrest Of Sambhaji Bhide | Live Law". Live Law. 2018-08-31. Retrieved 2018-08-31.
  22. ^ "Bhima Koregaon Violence: Maharashtra to Withdraw All Cases Barring Major Ones". The Wire. Retrieved 2018-08-31.
  23. ^ Banerjee, Shoumojit (2018-03-14). "Bhima-Koregaon violence: prime accused Milind Ekbote arrested". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 2018-08-31.
  24. ^ "Right-Wing Leader Milind Ekbote Arrested After SC Rejects His Anticipatory Bail Plea". The Wire. Retrieved 2018-08-31.
  25. ^ "Dalit Girl, Witness To Bhima Koregaon Violence, Found Dead In Well Near Pune". NDTV.com. Retrieved 2018-08-31.
  26. ^ "Bhima Koregaon shadow over death of Dalit witness". The Indian Express. 2018-04-25. Retrieved 2018-08-31.
  27. ^ Vivek Bhavsar, Bhima-Koregaon violence: RSS-linked committee blames police apathy, The Free Press Journal, 3 March 2018.
  28. ^ Mridula Chari, Bhima Koregaon case: A curiously prescient report puts focus on a Mumbai security think tank, Scroll.in, 31 August 2018.
  29. ^ ‘Maoists call urban mass organisations weapons … battle is for control of civil society through subversion’ (Interview of Smita Gaikwad), The Times of India, The Interviews Blog, 2 May 2018.
  30. ^ Kiran Tare, Gunning for Maoists, India Today, 10 May 2018.
  31. ^ Report On Koregaon – Bhima Riot on January 1, 2018, Forum for Integrated National Security (FINS), 9 March 2018.
  32. ^ "Bhima-Koregaon violence: Police arrest 5 with alleged Maoist links for inciting riots". hindustantimes.com/. 6 June 2018. Retrieved 30 October 2018.
  33. ^ "Activists case: Pune police gets 90 more days for probe - Times of India". The Times of India. Retrieved 30 October 2018.
  34. ^ After Arrest Of Activists Over "Maoist Plot", A Midnight Drama: 10 Facts, NDTV News, 29 August 2018.
  35. ^ a b "Bhima Koregaon violence case: Five activists will remain under house arrest till September 17, says SC". The Indian Express. 2018-09-12. Retrieved 2018-09-12.
  36. ^ Rautray, Samanwaya (2018-09-28). "Bhima-Koregaon case: Supreme Court refuses to interfere with arrests of five activists". The Economic Times. Retrieved 2018-09-28.
  37. ^ "Supreme Court Extends Activists' House Arrest By 4 Weeks: LIVE Updates". NDTV.com. Retrieved 2018-09-28.