PUNE: During the Maharashtra Bandh on January 3rd, the Pune Rural Police gathered over 2,000 video recordings revealing incidents of vandalism in the district. Bharip Bahujan Mahasangh President and Dalit leader, Prakash Ambedkar, called for a state-wide shut-down. The order was declared by Ambedkar two days after the violence against the Dalits, visiting the war memorial at Bhima Koregaon in Pune, commenced.
According to The New Indian Express, vandalism and arson incidents transpiring during the Bandh were not just restricted to Pune. Several areas in the state, including Mumbai, felt the brunt of the violent conditions. The Pune Rural Police confirmed that they have successfully obtained over 2,000 videos, captured by police personnel on duty on their mobile phones or CCTV cameras in areas of tension. A police officer affiliated to the headquarters of the Pune Rural Police stated, “People from various communities are helping us identify these hooligans.”
The officer also mentioned that forty-three individuals have been arrested and taken into custody so far throughout different parts of the district. As per India Today, the state government, in the meanwhile, has offered the family members of Rahul Phatangale a cheque of Rupees ten lakh in compensation. Phatangale was a victim of the violence that occurred at Bhima Koregaon on January 1.
Twelve more people including three minors were arrested by district police in connection with the Koregaon Bhima Violence on January 1. The violence broke out due to caste clashes in which one person was killed.
Seventeen people were earlier arrested by the police in connection with the incident. The violence took place during the bicentennial event to memorialize the Koregaon-Bhima battle in which Peshwas lost to the British imperial army comprising of Dalits.
On January 1, numerous vehicles, shops, houses were vandalized by mobs in areas near Koregaon Bhima. Several Dalits visit the Koregaon Ranstambh (victory pillar) every year to commemorate the Koregaon Bhima battle.
Pune district SP Suvez Haque said that those who were arrested on Monday were from the Maratha and Dalit communities. The police are trying to analyse CCTV footages and video recordings to see and identify the anti-social elements in the violence on January 1.
The police also booked six members of the Kabir Kala Manch, a radical cultural group for making provocative remarks during the Elgaar Parishad held on December 31, a day before the violence broke out.
JNU leader Umar Khalid, Dalit MLA from Gujarat Jignesh Mevani,Bharip Bahujan Mahasangh President Prakash Ambedkar and Late Rohit Vemula’s mother Radhika Vemula attended the Elgaar Parishad.
Mevani and Khalid have already been charged by the police for making provocative remarks to create rifts between the Dalits and the Marathas.
New Delhi, January 09: Newly elected Gujarat legislator and Dalit leader, Jignesh Mevani called out the ‘Yuva Hunkaar Rally’ along with Assam peasant leader Akhil Gogoi to address Dalit activists on January 09, 2017, even when the Delhi Police denied permission citing an National Green Tribunal (NGT) order that had disallowed protests at Jantar Mantar.
Around 1500 police and paramilitary personnel, armed with tear gas and 10 water cannons, have been deployed at the venue. In spite of that, a large number of students from universities in New Delhi, women’s groups, teachers’ associations and activists associated with Mevani from across the country are expected to attend the rally.
On Monday, a tweet by the office of Deputy Commissioner of Police said, “No permission granted so far by Delhi Police to hold proposed protest at Parliament Street in view of NGT orders.” However, the organisers have claimed that their protest is on Parliament Street and not Jantar Mantar.
The purpose behind the rally is to demand the release of Chandrashekhar Azad, the Dalit leader arrested last June over caste clashes in Saharanpur.
The 37-year-old Mevani is accused in the case of violence in the recent clashes at Bhima-Koregaon near Pune, that eventually spread across Maharashtra.
Pune, January 04: Bhima Koregaon, a village 30 kilometres north-east of Pune, witnessed celebration of the 200th anniversary of the battle between British forces, including Mahar troops, and the Peshwa army. However, clashes broke out in villages around Bhima Koregaon. The violence occurred in the wake of the death of a 30-year-old Maratha youth and injuries caused to several people. The Dalit community began protesting in cities of Mumbai, Pune and nine other districts across Maharashtra. On January 3, they demanded a statewide bandh. Devendra Fadnavis, Chief Minister of Maharashtra ordered a judicial probe by “a sitting judge” into the matter.
He said, “Every year, about 15,000 people assemble at the memorial. But this year the crowd was 3.5 lakh strong. Six battalions of police force were deployed, four of them placed at strategic points. As a result, despite attempts to trigger violence and riots, it was immediately curbed and major incident averted.”
What initiated as a caste based violence, later progressed into political firestorm.
Rahul Gandhi, President of the Indian National Congress alleged that the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) had envisioned the fact that Dalits “remain at the bottom” of the society.
He took to Twitter, “A central pillar of the RSS/BJP’s fascist vision for India is that Dalits should remain at the bottom of Indian society. Una, Rohith Vemula and now Bhima-Koregaon are potent symbols of the resistance.”
Denying these allegations, BJP sources said that the party was “concerned” about the Dalits. The reason being Dalit leaders such as Jignesh Mevani, who recently won the election in Gujarat, have marked their presence in Bhima Koregaon.
It is worth noting that the political aggression also echoed at the state and Centre level. Mohan Prakash, General Secretary in charge of Maharashtra, All India Congress Committee claimed, “Wherever the BJP is in power, its supporters and RSS execute such actions when events related to Dalit pride are organised”.
The Shiva Sena accused the current government of not having the knowledge about mischief mongers living in the state. “The state is bearing the brunt of the BJP having control of the Home department and politics in the police department.,” it alleged.
Meanwhile, Prakash Ambedkar, President of Bharatiya Republican Party Bahujan Mahasangh reportedly said that Hindutva outfits were behind the Bhima Koregaon attacks.
Police has booked two local Hindu right-wing leaders- Milind Ekbote of Hindu Ekta Aghadi and Sambhaji Bhide of Shiv Pratisthan for inciting violence. Complaints have also been filed against Jignesh Mevani, Dalit leader and Gujarat MLA and Umar Khalid, Jawaharlal Nehru University student for instigating the crowd. Both of them were invited at the celebration of Bhima Koregaon battle.
It will be interesting to see the amount of truth that these allegations hold. On one hand, it is possible that the right-wing groups were the reason behind this violence. On the other hand, it is strange to accept the fact that BJP would instigate such a division in the society. This contrasts its policy of ‘one India.” However, it will be beneficial for its rivals, as this will affect the Hindu vote bank of BJP immensely.