dalit movement

‘They are scared of Dalit assertion’: Jignesh Mevani speaks on Bhima Koregaon violence

The newly elected Gujarat MLA explains who was behind the attacks and why he blames the BJP and RSS.

Jignesh Mevani, the Dalit leader and newly elected MLA from Gujarat, was one of the star speakers at the Elgar Parishad – an event to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the battle of Bhima Koregaon in which Mahar or Dalit soldiers of the British army defeated the Maratha Peshwas – in Pune on Sunday. In the Dalit narrative, this victory is seen as the community’s triumph over the Peshwas, who were Brahmins.

On Monday, violent clashes broke out as people allegedly waving saffron flags attacked Dalits in the village of Bhima Koregaon, 30 km northeast of Pune. One person was reported to have been killed and three injured. The violence soon spread to other parts of Maharashtra, including Mumbai.

Speaking to Scroll.in, Mevani explains who was behind the attacks and why he considers the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and its ideological parent, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, modern-day representatives of the Brahminical Peshwas. Mevani – who came to prominence when he led the Dalit agitation in Gujarat in 2016 in the wake of the attack by upper-caste men on Dalit tanners in Una for skinning a dead cow – also speaks of what Dalit assertion means to him.

Excerpts from the interview:

Who were the people who tried to disrupt the Elgar Parishad and attacked the Dalits?
The people who attacked us are those who are not comfortable with Dalit assertion and their mobilisation. As I understand, these attacks were carried out by supporters of the BJP and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. These organisations are the modern-day Peshwas, representing Brahminism in its worst form. Two hundred years ago, our forefathers fought against the Peshwas. Today, Dalits of my generation are fighting against the new Peshwas. Why can’t Dalits peacefully commemorate the anniversary of the Bhima Koregaon battle? They [the attackers] have resorted to such methods because they are scared of Dalit assertion.

Why do you call the BJP-Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh the “new Peshwas”? What makes you declare that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s regime represents the resurgence of Brahminism?
The Peshwa regime was meant to protect the Brahminical system based on caste. The same is perpetrated by the BJP and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. Hindu Rashtra means protecting and promoting the hegemony of upper castes. Modiji has perpetrated neo-liberal policies by favouring the greed of corporate houses and patronised Brahminical oppression. His Gujarat model is essentially a Brahminical model. Dalits, minorities, farmers, labourers have no place in this system. Their rights have no meaning for these Brahminical oppressors, just as they meant nothing to the Peshwas.

Ordinary people are being attacked in the name of the cow, ghar wapsi and love jihad. Every time there is violence against Dalits, Modiji does nothing but shed crocodile tears while openly patronising the oppressors. What else would you call them if not the new Peshwas?

What changes do you think the Dalit movement should undergo in order to gain new momentum?
The Dalit movement must be taken in the right direction. It should focus on real and material issues and not just rhetorical slogans. The assertion among Dalit youth after the Rohith Vemula episode has been phenomenal. It has to be linked with the struggle for the economic upliftment of Dalits. A struggle against the caste system essentially means fighting both caste and class-based oppression. It means fighting against the devastation caused by neo-liberal policies. Why can’t the Dalit movement talk about the rights of the poor, about the Goods and Services Tax and demonetisation, about foreign policy and communal harmony? The Dalit movement has to be all-encompassing. Only then can it free itself from rhetoric and be connected to real material issues.

How do you plan to take your fight against the oppression of Dalits forward?
We have formed the Rashtriya Dalit Adhikar Manch. In the next six months, we plan to hold Dalit conventions in every district of Gujarat. Our objective is to fight against both Brahminism and capitalism. We are attacking Brahminism and also talking about issues of governance, corruption, corporate loot, farmers’ suicides and inflation. We are talking about social justice, and we will also not remain silent about the rights of the poor, including Dalits. These issues have so far been confined to the sidelines of the Dalit movement. We will bring them to the forefront, first in Gujarat and then in the rest of the country.

Support our journalism by subscribing to Scroll+ here. We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

Get ready for an 80-hour shopping marathon

Here are some tips that’ll help you take the lead.

Starting 16th July at 4:00pm, Flipkart will be hosting its Big Shopping Days sale over 3 days (till 19th July). This mega online shopping event is just what a sale should be, promising not just the best discounts but also buying options such as no cost EMIs, buyback guarantee and product exchanges. A shopping festival this big, packed with deals that you can’t get yourself to refuse, can get overwhelming. So don’t worry, we’re here to tell you why Big Shopping Days is the only sale you need, with these helpful hints and highlights.

Samsung Galaxy On Nxt (64 GB)

A host of entertainment options, latest security features and a 13 MP rear camera that has mastered light come packed in sleek metal unibody. The sale offers an almost 40% discount on the price. Moreover, there is a buyback guarantee which is part of the deal.

Original price: Rs. 17,900

Big Shopping Days price: Rs. 10,900

Samsung 32 inches HD Ready LED TV

Another blockbuster deal in the sale catalogue is this audio and visual delight. Apart from a discount of 41%, the deal promises no-cost EMIs up to 12 months.

Original price: Rs. 28,890

Big Shopping Days price: Rs. 10,900

Intel Core I3 equipped laptops

These laptops will make a thoughtful college send-off gift or any gift for that matter. Since the festive season is around the corner, you might want to make use of this sale to bring your A-game to family festivities.

Original price: Rs. 25,590

Big Shopping Days price: Rs. 21,900


If you’ve been planning a mid-year wardrobe refresh, Flipkart’s got you covered. The Big Shopping Days offer 50% to 80% discount on men’s clothing. You can pick from a host of top brands including Adidas and Wrangler.

With more sale hours, Flipkart’s Big Shopping Days sale ensures we can spend more time perusing and purchasing these deals. Apart from the above-mentioned products, you can expect up to 80% discount across categories including mobiles, appliances, electronics, fashion, beauty, home and furniture.

Features like blockbuster deals that are refreshed every 8 hours along with a price crash, rush hour deals from 4-6 PM on the starting day and first-time product discounts makes this a shopping experience that will have you exclaiming “Sale ho to aisi! (warna na ho)”

Set your reminders and mark your calendar, Flipkart’s Big Shopping Days starts 16th July, 4 PM and end on 19th July. To participate in 80 hours of shopping madness, click here.


This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Flipkart and not by the Scroll editorial team.