Maharashtra has been on the boil over the violence in Bhima Koregaon on January 1 that led to one person dead and many others injured. Lakhs of people gather every New Year’s Day to commemorate the victory of the English, whose troops comprised mostly of Mahar soldiers – then considered untouchable, against the Brahmin Peshwa-led Maratha Empire in 1818. The battle has come to be seen as a symbol of Dalit pride since the Peshwas were seen as oppressors of Dalits. Over 160 buses were damaged in Mumbai by rampaging protesters over 100 of whom were detained, police said.
Following the violence, a complaint has been filed against Gujarat MLA Jignesh Mevani and Jawaharlal Nehru University student Umar Khalid in Pune for allegedly making controversial statements during an event called “Elgar Parishad”, to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the battle of Bhima-Koregaon, at Shaniwar Wada in Mumbai on December 31.
The complaints were filed by Akshay Bikkad and Anand Dhond, both locals, who approached the Deccan Gymkhana police station with an application and demanded the registration of a case against Mevani and Khalid for allegedly promoting enmity between different communities.
“Mevani provoked the people to come out on the streets and retaliate. Due to this statement, people took to the streets and tension gripped the city,” the PTI reported.
Meanwhile, as the tensions between Dalits and upper castes, mainly Marathas, entered the third day, Mumbai remained tense amid a massive bandh or strike called by Dalit groups and parties across Maharashtra. Supporters, allegedly of Dalit parties, have tried to block trains, metro and buses in and around Mumbai and have attacked a car showroom in suburb Vikroli. Delhi too witness some protests.