Hindutva outfits have come out in opposition against an event that will be held on December 31 at the fort of Shaniwar Wada in Pune to mark the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon, The Indian Express reported on Wednesday.
The Battle of Bhima Koregaon was fought on January 1, 1818, by about 800 soldiers of the East India Company, most of them from the Dalit Mahar community, against almost 2,000 soldiers of the Peshwas who were Brahmins. The Company defended its fortification and forced the Peshwas to eventually retreat.
A pamphlet for the December 31 conference appeals to the people from the Dalit, tribal and minority communities to be inspired by the battle and defeat the “new Peshwas” –
the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and other Hindutva forces.
The event is scheduled to be inaugurated by Radhika Vemula (pictured above), the mother of Dalit research scholar Rohith Vemula whose suicide at University of Hyderabad in January 2016 had stirred protests across the country, The Hindu reported.
Gujarat MLA Jignesh Mevani, activist Soni Sori are also expected to address the six-hour-long programme. “The parishad will be chaired by former Supreme Court Justice PB Sawant,” Jyoti Jagtap, a member of the organising committee said. The event will also feature cultural programmes by the Kabir Kala Manch.
The Pune Nagar Hindu Sabha, which called the programme anti-national, said that it was unconstitutional to compare a democratically-elected government to the Peshwas. The Akhil Bhartiya Brahman Mahasangh and Udaysinh Peshwa, a descendant of the Peshwas, have also asked the police to deny permission to the organisers, The Indian Express reported.
Santosh Shinde, a member of pro-Maratha outfit Sambhaji Brigade, however said that the organisers had received permission from the Pune Municipal Corporation for the conference. “We would talk to the Bramhan Mahasangh,” Shinde said, “but we are not bothered about their objection. The programme will be held in a democratic manner.”