Violence marred the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon near Pune on Monday after some people, reportedly with saffron flags, pelted stones at cars going towards the village. A man was killed in the clashes near Pune.
Lakhs of people gather every New Year’s Day to commemorate the victory of the English, whose troops comprised mostly Mahar soldiers, against the Brahmin Peshwa-led Maratha Empire in 1818. Many Dalits celebrate the defeat of the Peshwas as the first step in their continuing struggle against caste-based oppression.
On Tuesday, protests against the attack broke out in Mumbai, Pune, Aurangabad and other cities in Maharashtra. On Wednesday, a bandh call by Dalit activists crippled Maharashtra. The protestors took to the streets of Mumbai where they shouted slogans, blocked traffic and even vandalised buses in several areas of the city. Railway and road traffic were hampered in Mumbai.
Here are seven articles on the Battle of Bhima Koregaon and the protests this week:
- Why lakhs of Indians celebrate the British victory over the Maratha Peshwas every New Year: Five hundred Mahar soldiers scattered the 25,000-strong Peshwa army for the East India Company in Koregaon near Pune in 1818.
- Contesting power, contesting memories: The history of the Koregaon Memorial.
- The pot, broom and Battle of Koregaon: Its significance and the rattling rhetoric.
- The myth of Bhima Koregaon reinforces the identities it seeks to transcend: The resolve to fight Hindutva forces is certainly laudable, but the myth used for the purpose may be grossly counterproductive.
- Bhima Koregaon attack may be fall-out of vandalism of Dalit icon’s tomb last week: Violence continues in Pune village on Tuesday as Maratha protest is accompanied by eatery being set afire.
- Dalit anger spills over in eastern Mumbai: The community is agitated about the attack on its members in Pune’s Bhima Koregaon.
- ‘They are scared of Dalit assertion,’ says Jignesh Mevani on Bhima Koregaon violence: The newly-elected Gujarat MLA explains who was behind the attacks and why he blames the BJP and RSS.