Brahman Mahasangh ‘welcomes’ Mevani, other speakers; calls for open debate on battle of Bhima Koregaon

In the battle, which took place on January 1, 1818, the British Army had defeated the Peshwas.

Written by Chandan Haygunde | Pune | Published: December 28, 2017 4:58 am
Brahman Mahasangh, Elgaar Parishad, Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani, Akhil Bhartiya Brahman Mahasangh, Koregaon, Pune, indian express Gujarat Rashtriya Dalit Adhikar Manch leader Jignesh Mevani addressing a press conference in New Delhi on wednesday.
Express photo by Renuka Puri

A day after it urged authorities to deny permission for the ‘Elgaar Parishad’ — an event to mark the 200th year of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon — the Akhil Bhartiya Brahman Mahasangh (ABBM) “welcomed” Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani and other speakers to the conference.

In the battle, which took place on January 1, 1818, the British Army had defeated the Peshwas. The members of the Dalit community believe that the British force largely comprised soldiers from the Dalit Mahar community, who waged a “war for freedom” from the alleged castiesm of the Peshwas, who were upper-caste Brahmins.

Anand Dave, district president of ABBM, said, “We are not against Elgaar Parishad, or people gathering at Bhima Koregaon for celebrations. We are only against casteism… We welcome Mevani, JNU student (Umar Khalid) and other speakers to Pune… we are open to interactions with organisers of the conference. If they are willing, let there be an open debate.”

“Our stand is that both the British Army and the Indian forces, represented by Peshwas, had soldiers from various castes. Many soldiers from Peshwa’s army sacrificed their lives in this war. So, as Indians, we feel it’s not right to celebrate the victory of the British. In fact, there is a difference of opinion among historians on whether the British Army won at Bhima Koregaon,” said Dave. The British government had erected a Jay-stambh (victory memorial) at Perne village near Bhima Koregaon in Pune, in the memory of soldiers in the British Army who had died in the battle.

Udaysinh Peshwe, a descendent of the Peshwas, had also requested Pune City Police to deny permission for the ‘Elgaar Parishad’. Peshwe said he disagreed with the ‘war for freedom’ narrative, explaining, “Peshwas represented the kingdom of Maratha Chhatrapati and their forces included soldiers and sardars (officers) from different castes, including Dalits. It was a battle between the British Army and the Maratha kingdom. Celebrating the victory of the British is not right. Peshwas played a major role in the rise of the Maratha Empire…”

In a press conference on Tuesday, Jyoti Jagtap of Kabir Kala Manch, one of the organisers of the event, had said, “It is time to accept that the Peshwa rule was unjust. We are fighting against the new Peshwas, the current rulers, who continue unjust practices even today.” A pamphlet for the conference makes an appeal to the public, mainly members of Dalit, tribal and minorities, to unite and be inspired by the heroes of the Bhima Koregaon battle, in order to defeat the “new Peshwas” — BJP, RSS and other “Hindutva” forces.

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  1. Gopal Kamat
    Dec 31, 2017 at 2:59 pm
    British colonialism was exploitative and brutal for the indian subcontinent.. to take the side of the british is deplorable! Surely, anyone can highlight indian history and criticise casteism, (the picture here is mixed and complex, but one can certainly be critical of a ruling clan on the basis of caste) - but to go so far as to side with the british is sad and wrong!
    1. G
      Gomathi Raghavan
      Dec 28, 2017 at 7:36 am
      All Brahmin welcome the initiative of Brahmin Mahasangh. It is the need of the hour. History is being distorted to serve personal motive political gain. Valour of Brahmin community patriotism are given in Ancient History written by Majumdar. one lac Brahmin sacrificed precious lives in protecting somnath temple. The British said " you scratch any Brahmin you will find patriotic blood fighting for Freedom " it is absolutely necessary to hold debate we would also know which hand is behind anti brahmin The present central bjp establishment has resorted to anti brahmin through various other outfits that are outside bjp / RSS