Maharashtra Energy Minister Nitin Raut was among those who after visiting the “Jaystambh” went to the historic Vadhu Budruk village located about five kilometres away.
Vadhu Budruk is known for the samadhi of legendary Maratha king Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj. The village also has a disputed tomb-like structure, which according to the Mahar community, is the samadhi of Govind Gopal Dhegoji Meghoji, a 17th century Dalit figure.
Several persons coming to ‘Jaystambh’ on January 1 also visit the Vadhu Budruk village. But in the wake of Covid-19, the number of people at Vadhu Budruk on Friday was much less.
Vadhu Budruk has become very sensitive following the dispute between Maratha and Dalit Mahar communities over who conducted the last rites of Sambhaji Maharaj. The Marathas from the village believe it was their ancestors, the Shivale Deshmukhs, who defied the orders of Aurangzeb and performed the last rites of Sambhaji. According to the Dalit narrative, it was Govind Gopal who performed the last rites of the king.
A board with the “disputed history” of Govind Gopal allegedly erected by the Dalit Gaikwad family in Vadhu Budruk on the intervening night of December 28 and 29, 2017, was allegedly removed by members of the Maratha community. This led to an altercation, seen as a trigger for the violence in Koregaon Bhima on January 1, 2018. Raut came to Vadhu Budruk in the morning and paid his respects at the samadhi of Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj and also at the samadhi of Govind Gopal. He then visited the home of the Gaikwad family claiming to be successors of Govind Gopal.
A family member Rajendra Gaikwad said, “We spoke to minister Raut regarding setting up of facilities like water, toilets around the samadhi of Govind Gopal as people from different states visit here regularly. We pointed out there is no sufficient light around the samadhi. He asked the electricity board officials to look into the matter.”
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