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Koregaon Bhima Commission of Inquiry examines descendant of Jaystambh ‘in-charge’ soldier

British government erected the Jaystambh, a military monument, in Perne village in Pune in the memory of its soldiers who fought against the Peshwas, or Maratha forces at Koregaon Bhima

Written by Chandan Haygunde | Pune |
Updated: February 1, 2022 7:13:02 am
Balasaheb Jamadar at the Jaystambh. (Express Photo by Pavan Khengre/File)

Koregaon Bhima Commission of Inquiry on Monday started examining the descendant of Khandojibin Gajoji Jamadar, a soldier who was part of the British Army that fought against the Peshwa forces in the Battle of Koregaon Bhima on January 1, 1818.

British government erected the Jaystambh, a military monument, in Perne village in Pune in the memory of its soldiers who fought against the Peshwas, or Maratha forces at Koregaon Bhima and appointed Khandojibin Gajoji Jamadar as its in-charge on December 13, 1824.

His sixth descendant, Captain (honorary) Balasaheb Jamadar, a retired Junior Commissioned Officer of the army, deposed as a witness before the commission.

The two-member commission headed by retired justice J N Patil is probing the violence in Koregaon Bhima on January 1, 2018, in which one person died and several others were injured.

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Commission’s lawyer Aashish Satpute began recording the chief examination of Jamadar who has claimed that battle of Koregaon Bhima and Jaystambh should not be linked to any particular caste or religion.

His family is also fighting a legal battle in different courts against the Maharashtra government regarding ownership and possession of the Jaystambh land, which they claimed to have got as per the ‘Sanad’ given to Kandojibin Gajoji Jamadar and by the Britishers.

Meanwhile, advocate Rahul Makhare continued cross examination of Sambhaji Shivale (51), a resident of Vadhu Budruk village, which is located about 4 km from Koregaon Bhima and is known to be the samadhi of Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj. The village also has a disputed tomb-like structure, which, according to the Dalit Mahar community, is the samadhi of Govind Gopal Dhagoji Meghoji, a 17th-century Dalit figure.

Marathas from Vadhu Budruk village believe it was their ancestors, the Shivales, who defied the orders of Aurangzeb and performed the last rites of Sambhaji Maharaj after he was killed by the Mughal emperor in 1689. The Dalit Mahar community, however, claims that Govind Gopal performed the last rites of the king. The Gaikwad family from the village claim to be successors of Govind Gopal.

A board with the ‘disputed history’ of Govind Gopal was erected by the Gaikwad family in Vadhu Budruk on the intervening night of December 28 and 29, 2017, and was allegedly removed by members of the Maratha community. This led to an altercation, which was seen as one of the triggering factors that led to the violence in Koregaon Bhima on January 1, 2018. In his cross examination, Sambhaji Shivale said “Dhagoji Meghoji” was the title of ‘priest’ from the Mahar community. Shivale has claimed to have submitted documents to show Gaikwads in Vadhu Budruk are not descendants of Govind Gopal Dhagoji Meghoji.

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