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Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Koregaon Bhima battle ‘Both British and Peshwa forces had soldiers from lower and upper castes’

According to book by descendant of British soldier in-charge of Jaystambh

Written by Chandan Haygunde | Pune |
January 4, 2022 1:41:19 am
Advocate Rohan Jamadar holds a copy of his book.

A descendant of a soldier who was in 1824 appointed as in-charge of the Jaystambh has penned a book on the battle of Koregaon Bhima. The Jaystambh, a military monument at Perne village in Pune district, was erected by the East India Company in 1821 in memory of its soldiers who fought against the Maratha forces at Koregaon Bhima on January 1, 1818.

The British, on December 13, 1824, appointed soldier Kandojibin Gajoji Jamadar (Malvadkar), who was injured in the battle, as the in-charge of the Jaystambh. Now, his seventh-generation descendent, advocate Rohan Jamadar, from Pune has written a book in Marathi titled ‘1 January 1818 Koregaon Bhima Ladhaiche Vastav (Facts of the battle of Koregaon Bhima)’.

“The book in Marathi gives information about the battle of Koregaon Bhima based on authentic contemporary historical documents and evidence, collected by me and my father, retired Indian Army officer Honorary Captain Balasaheb Jamadar. Many of these references have been submitted before the Koregaon Bhima Commission of Inquiry,” said advocate Rohan.

“After I announced the book in December, the Pune city and Pimpri-Chinchwad police issued notices asking me to publish it after January 2, citing law and order problems. The police also asked me to delete my Facebook post about the book. This was shocking as they issued notices without reading the book. But respecting the police, I followed the instructions in the notice and gave the first copy of my book to the Sangvi police station on January 2. The book is now available.”

As per a Dalit narrative, a British Army comprising 500 soldiers from the Dalit Mahar community defeated a 25,000-strong force of the Peshwas in the battle. Lakhs of people, mainly from the Ambedkarite Mahar community, visit the Jaystambh on January 1 to pay tribute to the soldiers who, they believe, fought a war for freedom against casteism during the Peshwa rule.

But advocate Rohan, who is from the Maratha community, says, “Going by contemporary records, both the British and Peshwa forces consisted of soldiers from different lower and upper castes and religions. Even the details inscribed by the British on the Jaystambh are enough to show that this battle cannot be linked to any particular caste or community.”

“The book also has a chapter on Dr B R Ambedkar’s visit to the Jaystambh in 1927. Dr Ambedkar visited the Jaystambh only once and delivered a speech against the casteist decision of the British government to ban the entry of the then untouchable Mahar community in the Army. There are no original records to show that Dr Ambedkar ever visited the Jaystambh again,” said Rohan.

“The book aims to stop the distortion of the history of the battle of Koregaon Bhima that my ancestors had fought and clear several misconceptions about it. If anyone points out mistakes in the book based on authentic references, I will make the corrections,” he said.

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