The Bombay High Court has granted permission to the state government to enter upon the “disputed land” around the Jaystambh to make arrangements for the January 1 programme to mark the anniversary of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon.
Justice V G Bisht passed the order in this regard on December 23, as per which the government has been permitted to enter upon the “suit land” to make necessary arrangements for the public to visit the victory pillar (Jaystambh) from December 25 to January 5, 2021. “Once this period expires on January 5, 2021, the state shall restore the status of the suit land (as it was on December 25) by January 15,” the HC order stated.
As per historical records, Jaystambh was erected (at Perne village) by the British government in 1821 in the memory of its soldiers who fought against the Peshwas at Koregaon Bhima on January 1, 1818. Later, the Britishers had appointed their soldier Kandojibin Gajoji Jamadar (Malvadkar), who was wounded in the Battle of Bhima Koregaon, as the caretaker of the Jaystambh on December 13, 1824.
Successors of Jamadar claim that as per ‘Sanad’ given to Kandojibin Gajoji Jamadar by the British government, possession of about 260 acres of awarded land along with the Jaystambh land was given to their family.
As per a Dalit narrative, a British Army comprising of 500 Mahar community soldiers defeated a 25,000 strong force of Peshwas (who were upper caste Brahmins) in the Battle of Bhima Koregaon. So, lakhs of people mainly from the Ambedkarite Mahar community turn up on January 1 for paying homage at Jaystambh and believe that Mahar soldiers in British Army fought a “war for freedom” against alleged casteism of the Peshwas.
But according to Jamadar, who are from the Maratha community, both British and Peshwa forces consisted of soldiers from different castes (upper and lower) and religions and so the history of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon “should not be distorted and used for making any casteist remarks”.
In 2015, the “Bhima Koregaon Vijay Stambh Saurakshan and Savardhan Samiti”, a private outfit, wrote a letter to Rajkumar Badole, the then minister of social justice, alleging that Jamadar family’s name was illegally included on 7/12 extract of Jaystambh land. Samiti demanded that Jamadar family’s name be removed from Jaystambh land, alleged encroachments done by them should be cleared and action be taken for preventing further encroachments, as lakhs of Ambedkarites visiting Jaystambh every year on January 1 face problems due to lack of space at the spot.
Following the letter, the government had initiated action against Jamadar. Then, Honorary Captain Balasaheb Jamadar, a successor of Kandojibin Gajoji Jamadar, moved a civil court in Pune seeking an order of permanent injunction to restrain the state government from dispossessing them from the Jaystambh land.
In December 2017, the court passed an order against Jamadar, who then moved the Bombay HC. The matter is still pending before the HC and the status quo in this case continued.
Like last year, the government through Pune district collector moved the HC and sought permission to enter on the disputed land to make arrangements for the January 1 programme at Jaystambh.
The HC order reads, “Though permission is granted to enter upon the suit land for this limited purpose, under no circumstances, the petitioner should be dispossessed under the guise of this permission.”
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