While appearing before the Koregaon Bhima Inquiry Commission on Thursday, journalist and researcher Chadrakant Shamrao Patil, said the ‘Jaystambh’ in Perne village should be kept in the possession of the Indian Army. “It (Jaystambh) should be one of all these monuments… medals and historical things are a matter of their (Army’s) pride,” he said.
Patil completed his chief examination by submitting details of how Khandoji Maloji Jamadar (Malwadkar), a soldier from the British Army that fought the Peshwas, was awarded a medal and made in-charge of the Jaystambh, and was also given 260 acres of land.
In his conclusion, Patil repeated that the murder of Gangadhar Shastri Patwardhan, a minister of Gaikwads of Baroda, who was sent to Pune through British intervention for settlement of a financial dispute with Peshwas, led to a dispute that further caused the battles of Khadki, Koregaon and Ashti.
Patil had filed an affidavit, along with a few hundred pages as ‘evidence’, regarding the history of the Battle of Koregaon Bhima in 1818, before the Commission headed by former Calcutta High Court Chief Justice J N Patel and comprising state chief secretary Sumit Mullick. The commission is going to look into the factors that triggered violence in villages near Pune on January 1, 2018, in which one person was killed and several others injured. In his affidavit, Patil had claimed that the history of the 1818 battle was not linked to any particular caste or religion.
Patil was cross-examined on Thursday by advocate Niteen Pradhan, representing Milind Ekbote, who is accused of orchestrating the Koregaon Bhima violence on January 1, Jayesh Shinde, a resident of Koregaon Bhima who suffered heavy property losses during the violence, and Captain Balasaheb Jamadar, a descendent of Khandoji Maloji Jamadar. He was also cross-examined by Advocate Vijay Savant, representing the Vivek Vichar Manch led by BJP leader Pradeep Rawat.
Replying to questions raised by advocate Pradhan, Patil said during his research, he did not find any reference that the Battle of Koregaon Bhima was a war between members of castes such as Mahars versus Brahmins. He also said he did not find any reference that about 800 soldiers of the British Army, comprising members of the Mahar community, “massacred” 28,000 soldiers of the Peshwas.
When Pradhan asked whether the soldiers of the Mahar community approached the Peshwas before December 31, 1817, for their participation in the fight against the British Army, Patil said he had found no such reference. When Pradhan asked whether Mahar soldiers approached the British to participate in the fight against Peshwas in the Koregaon Battle because they wanted “freedom from caste bias”, Patil said he had found no such reference in his research. On questions regarding the death of Maratha king Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj at Vadhu Budruk, Patil said it was not part of his research.
When asked if political parties were taking undue advantage of the controversy surrounding the Battle of Koregaon Bhima, Patil did not respond.
On questions regarding inclusion of such “communally controversial and sensitive issues” in the school curriculum, Patil said proper history should be taught to school students, so that they do not become victims of “distorted historical facts”.
Replying to questions by advocate Savant, Patil gave details of Mahadu Savant, Devi Singh and Sukhram Singh, the Indian soldiers in the British Army against the Peshwas in the 1818 Battle of Koregaon, who got medals for their valour.
Advocate B G Bansode, representing a riot victim and other lawyers, did not cross-examine Patil, saying he wanted time to study the large number of documents that had been submitted. Justice (retired) Patel agreed to it. Advocate Shishir Hiray, representing the state, also didn’t cross-examine Patil on Thursday.
Meanwhile, advocate Sandeep Dongre filed an application before the Commission demanding recording of the witness statements in Marathi, along with English. But the commission rejected the application, saying it was being ensured that there was no error in deposition, the details were being read out for the witnesses and any suggestions by them were recorded.
Advocate Aashish Satpute, lawyer for the commission, said hearing of other witnesses will continue on Friday.