Indian Scheduled Castes (also called Dalits & untouchables) are all set to celebrate the victory of East India Company on January 1st, marking the completion of 200 years of the famous ‘Battle of Bhima-Koregao’. It may be noted that entire India has once united against the same East India Company in the year 1857, whose victory is now celebrated in independent India.
The Battle of Bhima Koregaon is celebrated every year on 1st January, majorly participated by Dalits from across the country. As this year is the second centenary of the battle, millions of scheduled caste and other backward classes are expected to participate in the event at Bhima Koregao, located near Pune, Maharashtra where the battle took place. Hindutva organizations popularly known to certify anyone who denies their idea as ‘Anti-National’ did not yet dare to call Dalits as anti-nationals for celebrating this battle.
However, Akhil Bharatiya Brahman Mahasangh has approached the police and requested not to allow any program of Scheduled Castes at Shaniwar Wada; a gatehouse of Peshwa Brahmins. According to BBC, Anand Dave of the Brahman Mahasangh said “allowing such celebrations can lead to conflicts between castes”.
Why are the Brahman organizations against celebrations of Dalits at Bhima Koregaon & other places?
To understand why Brahmins are against these celebrations, one has to learn the history of the Great Battle of Koregaon-Bhima. The Battle was fought on 1 January 1818 between the British East India Company and the Peshwa faction of the Maratha Confederacy, at Koregaon Bhima. The 28,000-strong Marathas, led by Peshwa Baji Rao II intended to attack Pune. On their way, they were met by an 800-strong Company force predominantly included around 500 Mahar soldiers (an untouchable community in Maharashtra). Led by Captain Francis Staunton, the Company troops defended their position for nearly 12 hours. Therefore, the Dalit activists regard the battle as a heroic episode in Dalit history. Dr. BR Ambedkar, the crusader of Untouchables and architect of Indian Constitution has visited this place on 1st January throughout his life.
Historians noted this battle as a war against the British occupancy in India. Yes, that is also true. But what was the reason Indian Dalits (Mahars) had to fight against the Peshwa Brahmins and join British Company? As far as the Mahars are concerned, they did not fight this war for British but for their own freedom and emancipation from the social oppression by Caste Hindus, mainly the Brahmins. Mahars sought this war as an opportunity to end the oppression of ‘Chitpavan Brahmins’ who has treated dalits no less than animals.
Several historians have noted that the Mahars in Peshwa rule were not allowed to walk on the streets nor had access to any public properties like water, farming etc., The untouchables had to carry a broom stick attached to their backs so that when they enter into city, their footprints would not pollute the path. They were forced to put a pot around their neck to carry their spit in the pot. They were not allowed to hold any arms and education was completely barred. Killing of the untouchables had no punishments.
Indian Dalits treat the celebrations of Koregaon as their declaration against the ill treatment of Dalits in India even today. This year, being 200 years completion of Koregaon battle, more than 5 million Dalits are expected at Koregaon. Jignesh Mevani, noted Dalit activist who won as an MLA in the recently held Gujrat Elections is also expected to participate in this event.
BAMCEF celebrating Koregaon battle:
Backward and Minority Communities Employees Federation, BAMCEF has conducted over 250 meetings since past one year to mark the 200 years of Koregaon Battle. The organization, believed to be the strongest counterpart of Hindutva ideology (also called Brahminical ideology) and thin tank of backward classes has already engaged hundreds of its cadre at Koregaon. BAMCEF is celebrating this historic event in 9 acers land. Noted religious minority leaders Sajjad Nomani, Bishop Kamble, Korneshwar Swamy (Lingayat) are participating in this event called by BAMCEF’s national President Waman Meshram.
With inputs from BBC hindi