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Peaceful assembly of lakhs marks 202nd anniversary of Koregaon-Bhima war

Our Bureau Pune | Updated on January 02, 2020 Published on January 01, 2020

People arrive at ‘Vijay stambha’ (victory pillar) at Koregaon-Bhima in Perne village in Pune district on Wednesday   -  Jignesh Mistry

Amidst heavy police bandobast, lakhs of Dalit activists from all over Maharashtra thronged Koregaon-Bhima to mark the 202nd anniversary of the historic Koregaon-Bhima war. No untoward incident was reported.

Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, Ambedkar’s grandson Prakash Ambedkar, Union Minister of State Ramdas Athawale paid their respects to warriors who fought against the Peshwas.

Right wing activists and Dalits clashed in 2018 during the 200th anniversary of the war, which led to violence and later resulted in the arrest of activists Varavara Rao, Sudha Bharadwaj, Arun Fereira, Gautam Navlakha and Vernon Gonsalves for allegedly inciting violence. The police claimed that ‘Urban Naxals’ had played a role in instigating the violence. Prakash Ambedkar speaking to reporters today said that the new government in Maharashtra had provided police bandobast and facilitated peaceful organisation of the event.

In 2018, one person was killed and several injured in the violence. He alleged that cases filed by the Pune police against the intellectuals were “fraud’ and there was no point in the chargesheets which will be filed against activists.

Every year lakhs conglomerate at Koregaon-Bhima village on January 1 near Pune to pay respect to Mahar soldiers who sacrificed their lives in the war in 1818. Heavy police security was deployed and internet connection in the locality was suspended for the entire day.

The Koregaon-Bhima war was fought between Peshwas and British troop at Koregaon on the banks of the Bhima River on January 1, 1818. Maharas (dominant Dalit community in Maharashtra) who saw Peshwas as oppressors fought valiantly for the British. For the Hindu rightwing it was end of the Hindu rule in India, while Dalits, and a section of Marathas, consider it as the end of “Brahminical oppression”.

The British constructed an obelisk as a war memorial, and BR Ambedkar visited the place on January 1, 1927. Since then celebrations are conducted every year.

Published on January 01, 2020
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