On 03-Jan-2018 In People & Politics
Maharashtra hasn't had a good beginning to the new year 2018. On January 1, a crowd of Dalits in Pune were commemorating 200th anniversary of the Koregaon Bhima battle, but after a rift between Dalit group and some locals, the incident turned violent. The clash became bigger on January 2, when it spread to the parts of Mumbai, with Chembur area being the worst victim. Dalits were up in arms and carried banners, and stopped everyone on the way, they called it the 'Rasta Roko' protest. Today, January 3 is the third day of the protest and it has now affected other parts of Maharashtra including Thane and Aurangabad. But do you know why are the Dalits protesting and what were they commemorating in Pune?It all began in 1818 with the war between the British Army and the Peshwas. So how about we go back in time and look at the whole scenario:
On January 01, 1818, one of the last battles of the Third Anglo-Maratha War took place in the Bhima-Koregaon village when the British Army with around 834 infantrymen (500 of them from the Mahar community and 12 officers) defeated Peshwa Bajirao II's army of 28,000 warriors.
The British Army troops fought bravely for the whole day. Even though they were less in number, they forced the Peshwa's troops to give up their plan to take over because they feared the Company army.
Later on January 1, 1927, Babasaheb Ambedkar visited the site and declared it a rallying point for the Dalit community to keep the memory of all the brave Dalit soldiers who fought for their survival alive.
According to The Hindu, B. R. Ambedkar said, "Who were these people who joined the army of the East India Company and helped the British to conquer India?The people who joined the Army of the East India Company were the Untouchables of India. The men who fought with Clive in the battle of Plassey were the Dusads, and the Dusads are Untouchables.The men who fought in the battle of Koregaon were the Mahars, and the Mahars are Untouchables. Thus, in the first battle and the last battle (1757-1818) it was the Untouchables who fought on the side of the British and helped them to conquer India."
On the 200th anniversary of the victory of Dalits over the Peshwas who were originally Brahmins, the Dalits got into violent clashes with some right-wing groups in Pune. During the clash, a 28-year-old boy was killed and various vehicles were burned and houses were damaged.
On January 2, 'Rasta Roko' protests began in different parts of Maharashtra, including Mumbai's Chembur. People involved in the protests caused heavy traffic jams and interrupted the railway services.
Dalit groups called for a shutdown in the state on Wednesday, January 3. The other affected areas in Mumbai especially include Thane. Buses, autorickshaws and cars were hauled under the 'Rail Roko' protest. Police advised people to avoid areas like Kalanagar, MMRDA Junction and Western Express Highway.