202nd Bhima Koregaon battle anniversary: Pillars of pride await financial assistance

Vijay Stambh and resting place of Govind Gopal Mahar await funds for beautification. Union minister Ramdas Athawale had announced a Rs 100 crore grant for obelisk which is awaited. No drinking water facility, sitting benches at the tomb, says Mahar’s descendant
The resting place of Govind Gopal Mahar, a 17th-century peasant who Dalit groups and some historians believe performed the last rights of Maratha king Chhatrapati Sambhaji, the son of Chhatrapati Shivaji.(Rahul Raut/HT PHOTO)
The resting place of Govind Gopal Mahar, a 17th-century peasant who Dalit groups and some historians believe performed the last rights of Maratha king Chhatrapati Sambhaji, the son of Chhatrapati Shivaji.(Rahul Raut/HT PHOTO)
Updated on Dec 30, 2019 04:15 PM IST
Copy Link
Hindustan Times, Pune | ByNadeem Inamdar

Two historic monuments located five kilometres apart in Pune district stand as a testament to Dalit pride, but are now in need of funds to be developed and beautified.

The first is the “Vijay Stambh” or victory pillar on the banks of the Bhima river where tens of thousands of people gather every year to mark the anniversary of a British-era war where a British army, manned primarily by Dalits, defeated a much larger army commanded by the Peshwas, the then rulers of the realm supposedly notorious for oppressive caste practices.

The second marks the resting place of Govind Gopal Mahar, a 17th-century peasant who Dalit groups and some historians believe performed the last rights of Maratha king Chhatrapati Sambhaji, the son of Chhatrapati Shivaji, in defiance of a decree passed by Mughal emperor Aurangzeb.

While the first monument is more well-known, it is the second that was the trigger for violent clashes two years ago, allegedly instigated by right-wing groups, who dispute the historical importance of Mahar.

The violence on January 1, 2018 — when bicentennial celebrations of the war were on — left one person dead, at least 20 injured, and stoked a statewide protest that shut down Maharashtra. Two separate investigations were opened, one into the violence and the other into an event organised a day before in Pune, the Elgar Parishad.

On January 1, 2019, on the anniversary of the Bhima Koregaon war, union minister Ramdas Athawale had announced a Rs 100 crore grant for the beautification of the Bhima Koregaon obelisk.

A year later, local groups say they are still waiting for the funds to be disbursed while the government says it is laying the groundwork for the development of a monument considered important for millions of people from lower and backward castes across the country.

“We are making efforts for getting Rs 100 crore sanctioned for the beautification. We are preparing a detailed development plan and it will be implemented through the district collector’s office. We are taking follow-up with government and the sanctions have yet not come,” said Athawale.

District collector Naval Kishore Ram said, “The work for beautification and the Bhima Koregaon memorial development plan will be taken up after January 1, 2020 celebrations.”

Dalit groups have been pressing for the obelisk to be declared as a national monument. “The beautification work of the memorial has been pending for one year. We want both the central and state governments to take proactive steps in completing the work at the earliest,” said Rahul Dambale, president of the Republican Yuva Morcha, a social organisation.

While the Vijay Stambh is the more popular monument, the trickle of visitors to Mahar’s tomb has now grown– with more than 200 visitors daily.

“These visitors are facing issued like non-availability of drinking water, sitting benches and sheds to protect them from sun and rain. My forefather is a national hero and his samadhi (tomb) needs to be developed and beautified,” said Govind Gopal Mahar’s descendant Rajendra Gaikwad.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Close Story
QUICKREADS

Less time to read?

Try Quickreads

  • Mumbai: Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut arrives at the Enforcement Directorate office for questioning in an alleged money laundering case linked to the redevelopment of Patra Chawl, in Mumbai, Friday, July 1, 2022. (PTI Photo) (PTI07_01_2022_000062B) (PTI)
  • Karnataka Home Minister Araga Jnanendra. (ANI)

    'Will ensure justice...': K'taka minister on reports of two sisters stripped

    Karnataka home minister Araga Janendra said Friday he had only just received information about an alleged assault on two women in Anekal, a town in Bengaluru district. The sisters were allegedly stripped and assaulted at their home for failing to pay a debt. Multiple media reports have said the police refused to file a complaint for two days and only did so after videos of the assault were widely shared online.

  • The Maoist, Kamlesh was a member of Malenger Area Committee of Darbha Division of CPI (Maoist). (Representative image)

    Chhattisgarh: Maoist carrying reward of 5 lakh killed in encounter with police

    A Maoist carrying a reward of Rs 5 lakh on The Maoist, Kamlesh's head was gunned down by Chhattisgarh police in an encounter in Bastar's Sukma district on Friday, police said. The Maoist, Kamlesh was a member of Malenger Area Committee of Darbha Division of CPI (Maoist), police said. On Thursday, neighboring Dantewada police gunned down Denga Deva alias Mahangu Deva, who was a member of Katekalyan Area Committee of CPI (Maoist).

  • A cash van that was stuck in a waterlogged stretch in Bathinda after the first monsoon rain on Friday morning. (Sanjeev Kumar/HT)

    Monsoon covers Punjab’s Malwa belt, brings relief for farmers

    The first monsoon showers that hit the semi-arid region of south Malwa on Thursday night brought respite for cotton farmers from the deadly whitefly but exposed the ill-preparedness of the civic authorities in the urban areas as several areas in Bathinda town were in knee-deep in water. Also read: Monsoon arrives in Chandigarh tricity, so does misery Low-lying areas, such as Power House Road and Sikri Bazaar, were waterlogged.

  • Representational

    Mild earthquake in Karnataka's Kodagu, 3rd in a week in state: Report

    A mild earthquake was felt in Karnataka's Dakshina Kannada district early Friday morning - the third in the past seven days. News agency PTI said locals were woken up at around 1.15 am by a loud noise and tremors that were felt in Sampaje, Guttigaru, Ubaradka, Goonaka, Elimale, Sullia and nearby areas. Officials told PTI a report from the natural disaster monitoring centre is awaited. On Saturday (June 25), a 2.3 quake was recorded.

SHARE
Story Saved
×
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Friday, July 01, 2022