Ram Puniyani talks about Bhima Koregaon violence its history

NEW DELHI: Prof. Ram Puniyani talks about violence which erupted in Pune on January 1.

Puniyani, a former engineer and human rights activist said that on a chilly afternoon on December 29, 2017, some unidentified miscreants had gathered at the tomb of a local hero, Govind Gopal Mahar (Gaikwad), and defiled a worn nameplate at the site.

A wrestler by profession, Gaikwad had performed the last rites of the 31-year old Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj, who was assassinated in 1689 and his body severely mutilated by Emperor Aurangzeb’s soldiers.

Dalit groups gathered at Bhima Koregaon to celebrate an event to mark 200 years of the Bhima-Koregaon battle in which the British defeated the Peshwas of Maharashtra.

The Battle of Koregaon was fought on January 1, 1818 between the British East India Company and the Peshwa faction of the Maratha Confederacy at Koregaon Bhima.

Dalit leaders commemorate the British victory, as it is believed that soldiers from the Mahar community – then considered untouchable – were part of the East India Company’s forces. The Peshwas were Brahmins, and the victory was seen by them as a symbol of assertiveness by the Dalits.

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Clashes between Dalit groups and supporters of right-wing Hindu organisations had left a youth dead. The incident prompted the Dalit community to protest on the streets in Maharashtra and other states.