Bhima Koregaon violence echoes in Nagpur

Nagpur: The violence at the event marking 200th anniversary of the Bhima Koregaon battle in Pune district, in which forces of the East India Company defeated Peshwa’s army, had its echo in Nagpur as well.

Notably, 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. However, some right-wing groups in Pune had expressed opposition to celebration of the `British’ victory.

Incidents of stone-pelting and vandalism occurred at Bhima Koregaon in Shiroor tehsil on Monday afternoon when people were heading for the war memorial in the village, police said. One person was reportedly killed in the violence.

In Nagpur, a Dalit leader Veera Sathidar, Convener of Prerna Yatra, organised protest at Samvidhan Square (RBI Square) on Tuesday against the violence at Bhima Koregaon. Prerna Yatra was taken out from Khairlanji in Bhandara district and headed for Bhima Koregaon to participate in the 200th anniversary event. The activists of Prerna Yatra resorted to ‘Rasta Roko’ at the busy intersection at Samvidhan Square.

Speaking to media persons, Veera Sathidar said the violence at Bhima Koregaon was pre-planned by the right-wing groups. “The event is being organised since past 200 years but violence was never reported. Some people are unhappy over the organisation of the historical event,” he claimed.

The violence erupted after a local group and some members of the crowd on its way to the memorial had an argument over some issue. Stone-pelting started after the argument. During the violence, some vehicles and a house in the vicinity were damaged, a police officer deployed for security at Bhima Koregaon, said without elaborating.

The battle of Bhima Koregaon was fought on January 1, 1818. Some Dalit leaders and thinkers view its outcome as a victory of oppressed classes over the upper-caste establishment of those times.