Dalit Activists Call Bhima Koregaon Clash Pre-Planned, Blame Cops
Violent clashes broke out in Maharashtra over the event celebrating the 200th anniversary of the Bhima Koregaon battle on Tuesday, 2 January. Trains were delayed and buses vandalised in places including Pune, Mumbai and Aurangabad.
Dalit activists Sachin Mali, Sheetal Sathe and Sujat Ambedkar spoke to The Quint about the violence.
Violence Political in Nature: Sachin Mali
Mali said the atmosphere was tense when he reached Koregaon on 1 January.
He said people started pelting stones and attacking vehicles with swords and sticks, adding:
Mali said Ambedkar’s followers tackled the situation responsibly in a peaceful manner, and if they hadn’t done so the damage could have been way worse.
He said such incidents should be condemned democratically, and a judicial inquiry should be set up.
Police Inefficiency Responsible For the Riots: Sujat Ambedkar
Musician and Dalit activist Sujat Ambedkar said Dalits celebrate Vijay Diwas on 1 January, every year, to mark the “epic victory” of Dalits over the people who enslaved them.
He said a landmark event called Elgar Parishad was held in Pune on 31 December to defeat the new Peshwai. Ambedkar said the new Peshwai comprises the same Brahminical forces which use different techniques to enslave Dalits.
He said there were protests across Maharashtra, on Tuesday, because innocent Dalits and Ambedkarites were attacked on 1 January by crowds carrying saffron flags, adding that:
Ambedkar pinned the blame for the riots on the police, saying:
An Attempt to Pit Marathas Against Mahars: Sheetal Sathe
Sathe, a member of Kabir Kala Manch, a cultural organisation set up in Pune, and a poet, said the riots over the event were pre-planned by “Hindutva forces to pit Marathas against Mahars in Maharashtra”.
Earlier in the day, Ambedkar, who is also the grandson of Babasaheb Ambedkar, called for a bandh across Maharashtra on Wednesday. Sathe said the bandh should take place peacefully across the state.
She also blamed the police, saying: