The year 2018 at its very beginning witnessed the attack of Hindu fascist forces on Dalits, Muslims, Christians and Bahujans who gathered at Bhima Koregoan and surrounding villages near Pune in Maharashtra to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Koregoan. Upper caste Hindutva outfits like the Akhil Bhartiya Brahmin Mahasabha, the Hindu Ekta Aghadi, Shiv Pratishthan and the Rashtriya Ekatmata Rashtra Abhiyan had been opposing this celebration as being “anti-national” and, as was expected, mobilised a planned attack on the same. Thousands of Dalits had gathered at the war memorial when individuals with saffron flags torched vehicles and pelted stones. The right-wing forces were damaging vehicles that had stickers of Jai Bhim or of Bhima Koregoan Shourya Gatha Divas. Twenty-eight-year-old Rahul Fatangale died in the violence and several others were injured. The police and the state central rapid force did not deploy enough strength even though lakhs of people had gathered to celebrate the event and passively supported the attack.
The Battle of Bhima Koregaon (the last Anglo-Maratha war) was projected by Ambedkar as the battle of Mahar soldiers against the caste oppression in Peshwa rule. The Mahars who were considered untouchables, were made to tie brooms at their waists to sweep the dust of their footprints, and pots at their necks to collect their own spit. The caste extremely tortured by the Peshwas got recruited in the British Army as a refuge out of their intolerable poverty and social oppression, fought valiantly and the victory no doubt marked the firm hold of the British Empire in India. But the war was one between the two rulers and the East India Company, for its own imperial trading interests left no chance to exploit the oppressed for their own class interest. The last 70 years (since British left India) witnessed the same social exclusion and exploitation of Dalits and other minorities by Brahminical Indian ruling class and the Hindutva outfits under the patronage of the ruling RSS/BJP continued to convey their politics of tyranny and hatred by brutally attacking the 200th anniversary rally of Bhima Koregaon in broad daylight. The level of atrocities on Dalits has risen from 27,070 in 2006 to 47,064 in 2014 (these are only the registered cases).
In the post Bhima Koregaon violence, the Maharasthra police are targeting Dalits across Maharashtra instead of arresting those involved in terrorising the oppressed community. Most arrests in Mumbai were from the slums of Chembur, Deonar, Vikroli and Powai where people from Dalit Bahujan communities are dwelling. In January 6, a 15-year-old boy was picked up by Chembur police for “unlawfully assembling on the street”, “rioting” and the most serious of all – “voluntarily causing grievous hurt to any person being a public servant in the discharge of his duty”. Similar cases of arrests of Dalit youth and kids have been recorded in the last few days. In Mumbai alone, close to 300 persons, all belonging to Bahujan communities have been arrested. The Directorate General of the Police’s control room confirmed a total of 502 FIRs have been registered across Maharashtra in the aftermath of the Bhima Koregaon violence. Besides being a part of unlawful assembly, many of them have been booked under serious, non-bailable charges such as vandalism and attempt to murder. It is clear that most of them are trumped-up charges and the purpose is not only to convict them, but to instill terror in their minds. Dalit and Bahujans commonly get criminalized during such violent incidents in this Brahminical justice system and these cases end up criminalizing the community en masse.
Post 2014, the Modi government has intensified attacks on Dalits, Adivasis and Muslims in order to pursue the agenda of the Hindutva brigade and serve the imperialist forces to loot the natural resources and cheap labour of our nation. Ambedkar Bhagat Singh Study Circle expresses it soliditary with the struggling Dalits of Maharasthra and feels it’s imperative to strengthen the struggle against Hindutva fascism to pave the way for a just and democratic society.