Prakash Ambedkar, a former MP and grandson of B R Ambedkar, has called for a state-wide bandh on Wednesday after violence marred the 200th-anniversary celebrations of the Bhima-Koregaon battle in Pune district on Monday. Though the Maharashtra government has ordered a judicial probe, Prakash Ambedkar rejected the inquiry.
“The judicial inquiry ordered by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis is not acceptable to us. The government should request to the chief justice of Bombay High Court to appoint sitting judge to probe this incident. The judge should have the powers to collect the evidence and to punish the culprits. The inquiry should be conducted by a non-Dalit judge,” said Prakash Ambedkar who was one of the speakers at the Pune event.
The latest development comes around as there were calls for a bandh in Mumbai on Tuesday, as Dalit groups sought action against those involved in the violent clashes in Pune the day before. A day after the violence in Pune where one person was killed, Mumbai also saw protests at many places affecting rail and road traffic. Hundreds of people stalled train operations at Mulund, Chembur, Bhandup, Ramabai Ambedkar Nagar in Vikhroli and Nehru Nagar in Kurla this morning, in protest of the Monday incident. Additional Commission of Police Lakhmi Gautam said, “There are groups of people attempting a ‘raasta-roko’ (to block the way). The police has managed to avoid it so far.”
Violence between the Dalit and Maratha communities was reported on Monday after lakhs of Dalits gathered in the city to attend an event to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon. Incidents of stone-pelting and vandalism also occurred at Bhima Koregaon in Shiroor tehsil on Monday when people were heading for the war memorial in the village. Monday’s event was to mark 200th anniversary the battle in which forces of the East India Company had defeated Peshwa’s army.
Dalit leaders commemorate the British victory, as it is believed that soldiers from the Mahar community — then considered untouchable — were part of the East India Company’s forces. However, violence erupted when a local group and some members of the crowd had an argument over some issue.
On Tuesday NCP chief Sharad Pawar also appealed for peace, while blaming the administration for the violence during the event. Meanwhile, Leader of Opposition in the Maharashtra Legislative Council Dhananjay Munde said the violence was unfortunate and condemnable.