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Caste gains precedence in Indian politics

The bandh called by Dalit outfits across Maharashtra to protest against Pune’s Koregaon-Bhima violence has severely affected normal life of Mumbaikars. The authorities suspended the remaining services of AC local in view of the ongoing protests. Other suburban services were run amid alternating protests at Elphinstone Road, Goregaon, Dadar, Malad. There was no cancellation of long distance trains. Mumbai Central Railway and Harbour Line, trains leading to Kalyan and Panvel route have been affected. Thirteen BEST buses damaged due to stone pelting. Rasta roko was held at Bandra Kalanagar, Dharavi Kumbharwada, Kamraj Nagar, Santoshnagar Dindoshi, Hanuman Nagar Kandivali; road traffic remained affected. In spite of all the promises and assurances by police officers commuters were stranded in Mumbai because of lesser number of auto rickshaws and other mode of transport on roads. Auto rickshaw drivers were supporting the bandh only because they were scared about losses to be incurred by them. The protesters can vandalise anything. Train services from Virar in suburban Mumbai resumed after being halted for an hour. Some protestors tried to disrupt Railway services at Thane but were immediately cleared by RPF and GRP officials. Government did not declare any leave for schools, colleges and offices.

Heavy police deployment was visible at all sensitive locations. The violence was unfortunate and condemnable. Maximum impact of the bandh was at eastern suburbs of Ghatkopar, Chembur, Tilak Nagar and Mulund. Groups of protesters held demonstrations at Chembur, Vikhroli, Mankhurd and Govandi. Hundreds of protesters gathered in Priyadarshini, Kurla, Sidharth Colony and Amar Mahal areas on the Eastern Express Highway, took out processions and raised slogans against the government and administration. Protests were also held in Kolhapur, Parbhani, Latur, Ahmednagar, Aurangabad, Hingoli, Kolhapur, Nanded and Thane districts. Heavy security was deployed in the eastern suburbs of Mumbai. The Mumbai Police, meanwhile, issued a statement appealing to people not to believe in rumours and verify facts with the police before posting anything on social media.

The call for bandh was made by Prakash Ambedkar, the Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh leader and grandson of BR Ambedkar. He called for ‘Maharashtra bandh’ to protest against the government’s “failure” to stop the violence. Several towns and cities in Maharashtra were on edge as Dalit protests spilled over to capital Mumbai, with agitators damaging scores of buses, and disrupting road and rail traffic. Clashes between Dalit groups and supporters of right-wing Hindu organisations during the 200th-anniversary celebrations of the Bhima-Koregaon battle in Pune district had left a man dead. But during these riots, over 160 buses were damaged in the city, 100 rampaging protesters were detained. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis ordered a judicial inquiry by a sitting judge of the Bombay High Court into the Pune violence.

Religious tolerance had been one of the fundamental beliefs of Shivaji Maharaj. Religious tolerance and religious pluralism were important pillars of the nation-state since they were fundamental believers of Shivaji, the founder of the Maratha Empire. Today the political scenario has changed and Hindu got divided by so called secular forces for their own political interest. But Marathas today are unaware about their leader’s ideology and fighting against each other. Politicians are just dividing us on Hindu -Muslim, Dalit-Upper class, Aryan-Dravidian etc and are fighting over past issues without thinking about future to make India strong having brotherhood between all .

As several parts of Maharashtra continued to reel under caste violence, Congress accused the RSS and certain Hindutva outfits of triggering it and demanded a probe by a Supreme Court judge into the clashes. Rajya Sabha was adjourned till noon, and later till 2 pm, after opposition MPs raised the tense situation in Maharashtra over the Bhima-Koregaon clashes. Lok Sabha too highlighted the issue during Zero Hour after the Speaker didn’t allow adjournment and privilege motions were brought by the members. There are active forces causing upheaval in different parts of the country especially during Parliament sessions. The opposition parties then caused ruckus in the house thus denying any constructive work. This has been the trend for the last three years.

Maharashtra remained on edge after the 200th-anniversary celebrations of the Bhima-Koregaon battle in Pune brought to fore simmering caste tensions which engulfed several other areas in the state. Dalit scholars say Indian history is often recorded from a Brahminical perspective, which has resulted in Bhima-Koregaon and other battles in which Dalits fought, not getting their due. Bhima-Koregaon Ranstambh Seva Sangh (BKRSS) members, though, point out the dangers of the reductive view of the battle as caste conflict, and cite historical records documenting Mahars fighting in the Maratha army since the times of Shivaji, and even fighting alongside the Peshwa’s forces, including in the third battle of Panipat and the battle of Kharda. Relations between the Mahars and the Peshwas, who were Brahmins, grew strained after the death of Baji Rao I in 1740, and reached their nadir during the reign of Baji Rao II, who insulted the Mahar community and spurned their offer of service with his army. This caused them to side with the English against the Peshwa’s numerically superior army of the Bhima-Koregaon battle, which the forces of the British East India Company had won over those belonging to the Peshwa. 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. The Peshwas were Brahmins, and the victory was seen as a symbol of assertiveness by Dalits.

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Dr Vaidehi Tamanhttp://www.vaidehisachin.com
Dr Vaidehi an Accredited Journalist from Maharashtra is bestowed with Honourary Doctorate in Journalism, Investigative Journalist, Editor, Ethical Hacker, Philanthropist, and Author. She is Editor-in-Chief of Newsmakers Broadcasting and Communications Pvt. Ltd. for 11 years, which features an English daily tabloid – Afternoon Voice, a Marathi web portal – Mumbai Manoos, monthly magazines like Hackers5, Beyond The News (international) and Maritime Bridges. She is also an EC Council Certified Ethical Hacker, Certified Security Analyst and is also a Licensed Penetration Tester which caters to her freelance jobs.

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