A 23-year-old Dalit student Amit Parshuram Bongade, who was left seriously injured during the clashes that broke out near Koregaon Bhima on January 1, was discharged from the Sassoon General Hospital on Monday. Bongade returned to his native place in Digras, Yavatmal district, late in the evening.
Bongade told The Indian Express that he had joined the Samata Sainik Dal (SSD), an organisation started by Dr B R Ambedkar in 1926, on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon. A final year student of B Com at a college in Digras, Bongade lost his parents early in life. He grew up at his uncle’s house.
“I came to Pune with a few friends from Yavatmal in a private vehicle to pay my tributes at the Jaystambh in Perne village. I was wearing an SSD uniform and had participated in the SSD march towards Jaystambh. Later, I volunteered to work as an SSD guard in the area. After leaving the place, around 6 pm, I reached our vehicle parked nearby. Some people were pelting stones at some of the vehicles that had blue flags. A stone that was coming towards our vehicle, which also had a blue flag, hit my head. I lost consciousness. I do not remember what happened thereafter. I was in the hospital when I regained consciousness. I could not see the people who threw stones at me….I am a staunch Ambedkarite and paying tributes at the Jaystambh on January 1 felt like a duty. I am sad that the riots happened. I appeal the people to maintain harmony,” he said.
Due to the injuries he had sustained during the clashes on January 1, Bongade was in the intensive care unit of Sassoon Hospital for about 15 days. He also underwent a surgery and has been having difficulty speaking, said a member of his family. “Doctors said Amit is stable now. But he has been told to take proper rest and come for a follow-up next month. Fortunately, he has survived the incident. We hope he gets back to his normal life soon,” said Bongade’s aunt, Lakshmi Ghulerao.
About future plans, Bongade said he will soon start preparing for his final-year exams scheduled in April. Meanwhile, citing his weak financial condition and health, Bongade’s family has sought a government job for him.
Police had lodged an offence of attempt to murder in this case at Shikrapur police station. Various Dalit and other social outfits visited Bongade at the hospital. Violence had erupted near Koregaon Bhima on January 1 between Marathas and Dalits following a dispute over erection of a board near the samadhi of Govind (Mahar) Gaikwad at Vadhu Budruk village on December 29.
Members of the Dalit community had assembled at the site in huge numbers on the day to pay their tributes at ‘Jaystambh’ in Perne village on Pune-Ahmednagar Road. The clashes killed one while several others, including police officers, were left injured. Over a hundred vehicles, shops and houses were damaged during the violence.