• Understanding Bhima Koregaon Celebrations and the Subsequent Violence Unleashed Upon Dalits

    Vidya Bhushan Rawat

    January 3, 2018

    Image Courtesy: Hindustan Times

     

    Ambedkarites are agitated all over the country as the despicable attempts of the Hindutva affiliated organisations in Pune attacked the massive assembly of people who had come to pay their respect to 800 brave Mahar soldiers who with the help of British had defeated the then powerful army of the Peshwas which numbered around 30,000  at the battle of Bhima Koregaon on January 1st, 1818. Since this was 200th year of the historical war, the Ambedkarites all over the country wanted to celebrate it in much bigger way and programmes have been organized all over the country to this extremely important milestone of history.

    Just a few days back, when the Ambedkarites were celebrating the Manusmriti Dahan Diwas on December 25th, Hindutva’s brahmanical outlets were targeting students and all those who were participating in it. In the last three years since this government has come to power the attack on Ambedkarites have increased because the whole narratives of Dalit Bahujan history actually are hugely embarrassing for the Sangh Parivar whose claim of sole ownership over the Hindu religion is equally being challenged by many who don’t buy their narratives. With corrupted media in their hand and absolutely thuggish anchors in the prime time shows playing their dirty games through brahmanical distortions and lies. These crooked media owners and their official paid agents are the biggest threat to democratic polity in India. It is a warning. Media has a responsibility to report fairly and in a balanced way apart from playing a role of statesman but sadly it has turned absolutely farcical and den politically planted lies.

    As The Quint reported quoting  Sachin Mali that, "they started shrashing cars. At least 500-500 cars were burnt. They injured several people with stones’. One of the injured died today." He further added that there is a political angle behind the violence which according to him, was committed, keeping the 2019 polls in mind. We all know that the Sangh Parivar uses these contradictions and sharpen them for their ultimate political benefit. Marathas have been high handed but definitely it also needs to be understood that the brahmanical rule of Peshwas in Maharashtra was a crime against humanity. On any decent human rights standard that we have today, Peshwa rulers and their cronies must tender a public apology to the millions of Dalit Bahujan communities in India who were humiliated and insulted in that tyrannical regime.

    We don’t wish to blame to current generations for the faults and sins of their ancestors and that would be absolutely unjustified but what is most important for communities to build up relation is the issue of "acceptance" by the communities that yes there was something wrong and it has to be condemned. When the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeu apologized to Indigenous people in the Parliament, it was an acceptance that they have been wronged and that today the prime minister of Canada admits it. Many times people suggest that we should not harp too much on the things of past which we are not responsible but how can people and communities reconcile if we don’t have the capacity to accept that some grossly wrong things happened in the past. If you don’t believe in caste system and untouchability today, can you ignore that in the Peshawai the very edifice of their vampire was discrimination among their subjects on the basis of their identity. Being a shudra and an untouchable would mean not acceptance as human being in that regime which is being idolized by people.

    Fact of the matter is all the progressive elements in the country should have joined this historical event to suggest that we appreciate and salute the bravery of the Mahars who defeated a tyrannical army. If the Brahmins of Pune today admit that they condemn what the Peshwas did to Dalits and Bahujans in their regime, it would serve as one of the greatest reconciliatory gesture. But will they ever do it. Never, says Sujatha Anandan, veteran columnist in her tweet, ‘Peshwai inheritors have never been able to get over their defeat by Mahars. They returned Shivaji’s equal society to varnashrama. Hence the British attack found no sympathisers or fighters including Mahars.’ So, what we witnessing today is the false glorification of the brahmanical class which is exposed completely as their control over our minds through planted history as well as cooked up mythologies has been effectively countered and trashed by the legendary Jyoti Ba Phule and later Baba Saheb Ambedkar.

    The Sangh Parivar is doing its best now to not only create caste contradictions but also attempting to manage them in different way but their big project of glorifying their brahmanical past will boomrang with the growing young generation of Ambedkarites who are determined to dig everything which humiliated their ancestors and reject the old order which still want to keep brahmanical monopoly and retain it the massive media lies and distortions.

    Rather than condemning the brutal attack by the shameless supporters of the Peshwas, the media has tried to make it sound like a "celebration of the victory of British". We know very well, years ago, Arun Shourie tried to paint a picture of Dr Ambedkar like that. Shourie and other stooges of the brahmanical order must understand the fights and struggles of Dalit – Bahujans to liberate this country yet whenever the question came regarding the liberation of the Dalits and Bahujans, it was legends like Phule and Ambedkar who chose to liberate their people.

    It was important. For centuries, you denied people right to life, right to water, right to education, right to own property in their own land. You destroyed their literature and maneuvered your supremacy through creation of perceptions that justified varna system and blamed the victims for their own suppression. Through Sanskrit which you never allowed the Shudras and Atishudras to study, the brahmanical crooked elite tried to control the minds of the Bahujans. Thank to Baba Saheb Ambedkar, Jyoti Ba Phule, Periyar and many other legends, people are standing up now and responding. They are unearthing history and mythologies and explaining to people what is written about it. Hence, Ambedkarism and vedik Brahmanism can’t go together. It is an open clash of civilization. The two civilisations in India will be at constant war unless those who suppressed others and falsified their history apologise and seek reconciliation. You can’t reconcile by false narratives and playing the planted perceptions suitable in the Hindu muslims or Congress BJP binary. The real binary will be between those who believe in the varnashram dharma and those who are victim of it and reject it thoroughly.

    I don’t want to go into the historicity of the Bhima Koregaon incident of 1818. That the British army defeated the peshwas is a reality. Even if it is myth, I am sure, we will all agree, that the rule of Peshwas in Maharastra was a completely disaster as far as Dalits are concern and a purely brahmanical hegemonic game. The Brahmins are experts in creating mythologies and through them they actually enslaved a huge population of India. Today, if these myths are broken by an aspiring young generations of Ambedkarite then we should welcome it. After all, we need to understand as why the Sangh Parivar elements are against this narrative of the Bhima Koregaon incident. It is because the Parivar is trying to manage things while the Brahmins at the ground level have never been able to digest their defeat.

    Pune still is the hot bed of the brahmanical caste forces in Maharshtra. Shouldn’t we remember how   rationalists like Govind Pansare and Narendra Dabholkar were killed and nothing has happened to their murderers who are still absconding. It is these revivalist forces who want to suppress the rising Dalit assertion all over the country either by hook or crook. The Sangh parivar’s methodology in this regard is clear. One, they want to use Baba  Saheb Ambedkar, erect his statues and memorials all over the country while carefully using his writing against Congress to fulfill their political agenda.

    Sangh never want to use what DrAmbedkar spoke about Brahmanism, Rama and Krishana as well as  on the concept of Hindu Rashtra, which he said, if ever happened, would be a calamity for India. At the ground level, Sangh is sharpening the caste contradiction to benefit its own agenda hence those castes who are politically active and assertive are being carefully targeted with subcaste themes. They did it in Uttar Pradesh with Chamars and they will do this in Maharashtra with Mahars who are far more enlightened and assertive. The third stretagy of the Sangh Parivar is to unleash their Hindutva outlets mostly comprising of upper castes peasantry and powerful OBCs to pitch against Dalits when they question religion or religious text books by disturbing the events, filing cases against the organisers and if the Dalits and others retaliate against such incidents then start building up false media narratives and respond to the retaliation and not on the root cause of the incident. In the past three years the thuggish media has done this.

    Today, Maharashtra’s Dalit Bahujan organisations have given a call for strike throughout the state against the violence on Dalits. Media once again failed by not reporting and meanwhile presenting  as if Dalits are spreading casteism. The crooks sitting in newsrooms did the same in 1990 when VP Singh implemented Mandal Commission by blaming him for all the evils of caste as if VP invented the caste system.

    We have seen a pattern whereby the powerful castes in Maharashtra dominate. It is after Kharilanji, that the Maharahstra started facing Ambedkarite anger. The government has failed to protect the interest of Dalits. People have not forgotten that since Namantaran movement, Ambedkarites have to take to street to get justice. The failure of the Maharashtra government to protect the  lives of the Dalits and other Ambedkarites needs to be condemned. A departmental inquiry will not work as the goondas are roaming around and so threatening. Will the government apologise to the Dalits in the Parliament and in the Assembly to what has happened and their abject failure to act?

    The Hindutva organisations who have little knowledge of history except their own narratives and mythologies of glorification, must understand that they cannot bully the Ambedakrites now in their  narratives. People will develop and have done so. The Hindutva mythological blunders against Dalit Bahujans have got exposed. Baba Saheb gave us a direction and people in Maharashtra are following that. Even the OBCs are embracing Buddhism in Maharashtra and in other parts of the country. That would be the biggest socio cultural revolution in India which Baba Saheb Ambedkar always wanted. It is this assertion, and reclaiming of the cultural heritage by the Ambedkarite that the Hindutva is finding hard to digest and accept.

    It is not merely the question of Bhima Koregaon but the question whether Ambedkarite can celebrate victory of their forefathers over the brahmanical rulers. Till this date, the popular mythologies are created, history as a clash between ‘Indians’ and ‘British’ between, between Hindus and Muslims but in the whole narratives of the Dalit Bahujan history and mythologies, Brahmins remain the main oppressors as well as villains. It was always there if one is familiar with the writings of Phule, Ambedkar, Periyar or even Raidas, Kabir, Tukaram, Chokamela and legendary sufi saints. SanghParivar and its ideologues will find it highly difficult to counter because if they wish to accommodate, first they will have to admit openly that historical injustice has been done to Dalits and Bahujans of this country. And this is not merely for the Hindutva people actually all those who are part of the varnashram dharma and benefitted from their caste privileges need to reject the absolute farce of the caste system as it is detrimental to our nations unity and integrity. It is against our growth and development but how will they do it if they glorify their past and create such mythologies that justify caste based discriminations and untouchability.

    Today on 3rd January, we remember revolutionary Savitri Bai Phule on her 187th birth anniversary. The courage of conviction that she followed is a shining example of her determination. Phule couple remain the most outstanding and revolutionary one in our history. Phule challenged the brahmanical historical narratives. His actions just did not confine  to criticism of brahmanism but engaged with people by providing them better alternative. Though we must oppose where injustice is done, we must not remain engaged to those with whom nothing is going to achieve. It is important to build the society, strengthen them internally as the Phules, subsequently Baba SahebAmbedkar did by providing people descent humanist alternatives of life so that they are liberated from the clutches of mental slavery that the varnashram dharma has unleashed upon them.

    We hope the protest in Maharashtra remains peaceful but it is important for the state of Maharashtra and central government to show some seriousness on the issue of violence against Dalits and make it a serious crime. We cannot remain quiet when people are attacked and assaulted in peaceful gathering which was just meant to celebrate the great victory of their forefathers.


     

    Vidya Bhushan Rawat is a social and human rights activist.

    First published in Counter Currents.

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