Violence marred the beginning of 2018 for Mumbai, Pune and other parts of Maharashtra after a Dalit died in clashes during the bicentenary celebrations of the historic 1818 battle of Bhima-Koregaon on Jan 1.
Here is everything that you need to know about the Bhima-Koregaon violence:
1. On Jan 1, 2018, members of the Dalit community from across Maharashtra gathered in Koregaon Bhima village in Pune to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Bhima Koregaon battle.
2. It was the last Anglo-Maratha war fought at Koregaon on the banks of Bhima river on Jan 1, 1818. In the battle, the British East India Company turned victorious over the Peshwa faction of the Maratha Confederacy.
3. The celebration is important for the Dalits as they believe a majority of soldiers in the British army were Mahar Dalits, who defeated the Peshwa Brahmins, who were their oppressors.
4. Clashes broke out on Jan 1, 2018 (Monday) when some right-wing groups in Pune opposed the celebration as they felt it was glorifying the British victory.
5. A Dalit, identified as Rahul Fatangade, was killed in the riots. Many were injured.
6. Rahul Fatangade’s death added fuel to the Bhima-Koregaon violence and the protests spread outside Pune to Mumbai and other parts of Maharashtra by Jan 2 (Tuesday).
7. In Mumbai, protests were reported at Priyadarshini, Kurla, Sidharth Colony and Amar Mahal areas on the Eastern Express Highway. Rallies were taken out against the government and administration. Transportation was hit due to the agitation.
8. Local train services, the lifeline of Mumbai, was also affected as protesters blocked tracks and stopped suburban services at the Govandi and Chembur railway stations of the Harbour Line.
9. Many shops remained closed across the city to avoid clashing with rioters.
10. In Tuesday’s riots, as many as 20 buses of the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) were damaged, including a stone pelting incident at a bus at Ramabai Ambedkar Nagar.
11. The Mumbai police appealed not to spread rumours about the incident on social media and verify facts with them.
12. Appealing for peace, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has assured the Dalit community that they will get justice and that a judicial probe into the incident has been ordered.
13. Congress president Rahul Gandhi tweeted: “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.”
14. Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh (BBM) leader Prakash Ambedkar had called for a Maharashtra bandh on Jan 3 (Wednesday) accusing the state government for failing to stop the Bhima Koregaon violence. He said the shutdown was supported by 250 Dalit groups, including Maharashtra Democratic Front and Maharashtra Left Front.
You may like to read
15. Nearly 21,000 security personnel were deployed in Mumbai itself to maintain law and order during the bandh. Additional forces were sent to other towns and cities of Maharashtra.
16. In Mumbai, trains were blocked at Ghatkopar, leading to delays on the Central Harbour lines.
17. As many as 13 BEST buses (the buses of Bombay Electric Supply And Transport Undertaking) were damaged.
18. Schools, colleges and offices remained open, However, school bus operators kept off roads as a precautionary measure.
19. Protests were reported at Nagpur, Pune and Baramati. News of arson came from several areas. There were violence at Aurangabad too.
20. Baramati, Sangli and Miraj towns observed a total shutdown. In Nagpur, most schools and markets remained closed.
21. Prohibitory orders banning large gatherings were imposed in Thane. Though slogan-shouting Dalit activists attempted rail blockade, it was foiled by security forces.
22. Prakash Ambedkar, who is incidentally Dalit icon BR Ambedkar’s grandson, called off the strike at 4.30 pm on Wednesday.
Sreya is based in Kolkata. She is a Senior Editor of Big Wire.