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Battle of Koregaon: Lakhs of Dalits gather at the Vijay Stambh

Last year, the annual gathering of Dalits on the occasion of the bicentenary of the 1818 Battle of Koregaon had been disrupted by caste riots which originated in Pune and spread to the rest of the state

pune Updated: Jan 02, 2019 16:55 IST
Nadeem Inamdar
Nadeem Inamdar
Hindustan Times, Pune
Pune,Battle of Koregaon,Vijay Stambh
The Pune district administration and the police took adequate measures to maintain law and order at the Bhima Koregaon anniversary celebration that saw over a million visitors. the government deployed heavy bandobast with 24,000 Dalit volunteers were also roped in for crowd management. (Pratham Gokhale/HT Photo)

The unprecedented gathering of Dalits at Bhima Koregaon victory memorial on Tuesday is being seen as an assertion by the Dalits that they will not be cowed down by Hindutva forces.

Last year, the annual gathering of Dalits on the occasion of the bicentenary of the 1818 Battle of Koregaon had been disrupted by caste riots which originated in Pune and spread to the rest of the state. While Dalit leaders blame Hindutva leaders Milind Ekbote and Sambhaji Bhide for the caste clashes, the police saw the roots of the riots in the Elgar Parishad organised in Pune and alleged that Maoists were responsible for the clashes.

Akash Sable, President of Republican Bharat said, “Bhima Koregaon has given the Bahujan forces a completely new platform to fight fascism and dictatorship.All Bahujan communities have participated whole heartedly in this movement against slavery and found new alternative of future politics which is aimed at empowerment of Bahujans in the country. Bhima Koregaon is a stepping stone to a new awakening of socio-political empowerment of the Bahujans”.

Bapu Bhosale, Dalit Panther president said the record number of crowds this year is an indication that they will not be cowed down by the threats of Hindutva forces. He claimed that this year, the Sikhs, Jats, Muslims, Marathas, Malis and other backward communities participated in full strength giving a new meaning to the issue.

Rahul Dambale, President of Bhartiya Republican Yuva Morcha said that entire Ambedkarite community came onto streets peacefully and showed solidarity in their fight against Hindutva forces.

The January 1 anniversary of the battle of Bhima Koregaon holds significance and is of seminal importance for the Dalit community. On Jan 1,1818, 800 troops of the East India company with along with the Mahar soldiers defeated a numerically superior forces of the Peshwas led by Peshwa Bajirao II.

An obelisk was erected at the place by the British commemorating the dead soldiers.Babasaheb Ambedkar visited the memorial in 1927 and since then his followers have been visiting the obelisk on January 1 every year to commemorate their victory over the Peshwas.

First Published: Jan 02, 2019 16:28 IST

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