No one in Maharashtra had expected that the new year would start on a negative note. With so much of violence and vandalism all around the state, continuing for three days, the life in the financial capital has finally returned to normalcy.
But, what led to this situation? How did it happen? Who are all responsible for all these? Well, there are so many of questions you might be looking an answer for. So, here’s a quick recap of the whole story from its onset.
Bhima-Koregaon Battle celebration on January 1
On the very first day of the new year, thousands of dalits were celebrating the 200th anniversary of the Bhima-Koregaon battle in Pune. It’s a battle in which the dalit soldiers fighting alongside the British East India Company defeated the Peshwas. Peshwas were Brahmins and were allegedly exploiting the dalits. Hence, the triumph is considered to be a symbol of assertiveness by the dalits.
This celebration turned in to a political event when the dalit activist Jignesh Mevani delivered a provocative speech. Moreover, the Right-wing Hindu Groups clashed with the dalits and spoiled the whole event. This incident actually erupted a kind of hatred among the lower caste people for the upper one. The clash spread at a lightning fast speed and soon, the whole of Pune came into the effect.
The clashes resulted in the death of a 28-year-old man, as per the Maharashtra government. After the investigation, the dead man found to be a Dalit.
Clash spread to Mumbai on January 2
On January 2, the Dalit protesters vandalised the public property. They threw stones at many buses in various parts of Mumbai, disrupting the normal life. Even the rail services were rattled on main lines. The whole day, traffic was disturbed resulting in the shut down of many schools, colleges and offices.
More than 100 protesters were arrested on that day. The dalit leaders called for more protests in the financial city and elsewhere in Maharashtra on Wednesday. Furthermore, Prakash Ambedkar, a former MP and also the grandson of Bhimrao Ambedkar, called for a Maharashtra bandh the next day.
Commenting on this, Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis said, “Request will be made to Supreme Court for judicial inquiry in Koregaon violence matter and CID inquiry will also be conducted on the death of the youth. 10 lakh compensation for victim’s kin”.
Normal life was disrupted further on the bandh day, Wednesday, where people had to face a lot of hardship due to the shut down of stores, shops, transport and commercial establishments. The bandh called by the dalits was basically for the protest against the government’s failure to stop the violence in Pune.
On the other side, Prakash Ambedkar cited the names of Hindu Janjagruti Samiti President Milind Ekbote and Shivjagar Pratisthan President Sambhaji Bhide Guruji as the main culprits behind the act. A complaint has been lodged by the Pune Police.
Ambedkar said, “They should be arrested and face the same punishment as Yakub Memon (the man who was accused in the March 1993 Mumbai serial bomb blasts and was subsequently hanged). He demanded murder charges on the perpetrators of the violence and death of a young man in the Bhima-Koregaon incident.
The Next day after the Bandh
On Thursday, Mumbai Police denied permission for an event in Mumbai, where JNU student leader Umar Khalid and dalit activist Jignesh Mevani were expected to speak on the issue. Moreover, a complaint has been lodged against the two leaders for making “provocative speeches” earlier.
Dalit has been an oppressed party in the country for centuries. In the ancient times, Brahmins used to enslave the dalits. But we are in a new era now. One must forget the past and move on, else the day is not too far when there will only be the reasons to fight, but no one to fight.