To mark the upcoming Bhima Koregaon battle’s 201st anniversary on January 1, the Dalit organisation Bhim Army has announced that its founder Chandrashekhar Azad alias Ravan would address a rally in Pune.
The organisation is expecting over 30000 people to attend the “Bhima Koregaon Sangharsh Mahasabha”, which will be held on December 30.
The rally would be held on SSPMS grounds in Pune and besides Azad, several other leaders of the outfit would be present for the event.
The district president of Bhim Army, Datta Pol said that during the three-day program, Azad would not only address the rally but also interact with some students of the Savitribai Phule Pune University (SPPU).
Pol furthered that “on January 1, Azad will first visit the obelisk at Bhima Koregaon and later shower flowers on it from a helicopter.” He also has confirmed that the organisation had appealed to the city and rural police for permission to hold the ‘Mahasabha’ in Pune and also for the visit to the memorial.
It is worth noting here that a few days earlier there were reports that the Bhim Army, which is hailed as the voice of Dalits, had split into two factions after internal discord. A section of members had then expressed doubts in the leadership of Chandrashekhar alias Ravan.
Chandrashekhar, the founder and chief of Bhima Army, was jailed under the (National Security Act) NSA charges in connection with the 2017 Saharanpur caste violence case.
Last year the Dalit groups had organised ‘Elgaar Parishad’ on December 31 at Shaniwarwada in Pune to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Bhima Koregaon battle.
This was an event to celebrate the victory of British East India Company over an army led by Peshwa Baji Rao II of Maharashtra, who headed the Maratha empire.
We had reported how, even though it was a victory of imperialists over our own Indian rulers, certain leftist history had spun it as a ‘Dalit victory’ claiming the British army was supposedly comprised of Dalits and other lower castes while the ruling Peshwas were Brahmins.
Gujarat MLA and controversial Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani, JNU’s leftist leader Umar Khalid, Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh leader Prakash Ambedkar, and Bhim Army’s Vinay Ratan Singh were among the speakers there.
The event was, however, marred by serious violence in the Pune district, which resulted in the death of one person, leaving several injured.
The Pune police in April 2018, raided houses of eight individuals with suspected Maoist links in connection with the Elgaar Parishad conference on 31 December 2017, which was suspected to play the key role in inciting the violence the next day at Bhima Koregaon.
Police also stated that investigations have revealed that banned Maoist groups were involved in financing and organizing the Elgaar Parishad event.
As the investigation deepened several skeletons were unearthed. On June 6, Pune police arrested five supposed top urban Maoist operatives, namely, Delhi based activist Rona Wilson, advocate Surendra Gadling, professor Shoma Sen and Mahesh Raut from Nagpur and Mumbai’s Sudhir Dhavle.
A special team of Maharashtra Police has been investigating the Elgar Parishad and the persons behind the violence that took place the next day. The alleged ‘Urban Naxals’ arrested by the police were reportedly involved in inciting violence in Bhima-Koregaon area on Januar1, 2018.