Updated: December 27, 2017 5:42:15 am
RADHIKA VEMULA, mother of Dalit research scholar Rohith Vemula, whose suicide at University of Hyderabad in January 2016 had stirred a nationwide uproar, will inaugurate ‘Elgaar Parishad’, an event being held in Pune to mark the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon, in Pune district.
In the battle fought on January 1, 1818, the East India Company’s force, said to be about 800-strong, defended their position against nearly 2,000 soldiers of the Peshwas, eventually forcing the Peshwas to withdraw. The Company’s force that day was made up largely of soldiers from Dalit Mahar community — in Dalit narrative, this was a war for “freedom” from alleged caste hierarchy practised by the Peshwas, who were Brahmins.
A pamphlet for the conference makes an appeal to the masses — mainly people from Dalit, tribal and minority communities, to unite and take inspiration from the heroes of the Bhima Koregaon battle to defeat the “new Peshwas” — the BJP, the RSS and other “Hindutva” forces.
Pune Nagar Hindu Sabha, a Hindutva outfit, has opposed the Shaniwar Wada programme and called it anti-national. A letter released by the outfit said it is unconstitutional to consider a democratically elected government a “new Peshwa”.
Addressing the media on Tuesday, members of Bhima Koregaon Shauryadin Prerna Abhiyan committee said that Radhika Vemula will inaugurate the conference, organised at Shaniwar Wada, on December 31. Shaniwar Wada was the headquarters of the Peshwas.
Among speakers and guests expected at the daylong event are Jignesh Mevani, Dalit activist-leader and newly elected MLA in Gujarat; Chhattisgarh tribal rights activist Soni Sori; Jawaharlal Nehru University student leader Umar Khalid; Prashant Dontha of Ambedkar Students’ Association, Hyderabad; Vinay Ratan Singh, national president of the Bhim Army; Prakash Ambedkar, grandson of B R Ambedkar; and Maulana Abdul Hamid Azhari, national secretary of All-India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB).
Retired Supreme Court judge, Justice P B Sawant, will preside over the event, the organisers said. “All the speakers have confirmed their presence,” Jyoti Jagtap of Kabir Kala Manch said.
The Akhil Bhartiya Brahman Mahasangh and Udaysinh Peshwa, a descendant of the Peshwas, have asked Pune Police to deny permission for the Shaniwar Wada event.
Asked about the opposition, Santosh Shinde of Sambhaji Brigade, a pro-Maratha outfit, said, “We have received permission from Pune Municipal Corporation for the conference at Shaniwar Wada. We would also talk to the Bramhan Mahasangh, but we are not bothered about their objection. The programme will be held in a democratic manner.”
Datta Pol of Bhim Army said that the conference will take place “despite any kind of opposition”.
Asked about the inclusion of the AIMPLB, which took a “non-progressive” stand in the instant triple talaq case, in the event, Anjum Inamdar of the Muslim Mulnivasi Manch said AIMPLB’s stand has been misunderstood in the instant triple talaq case.
Ramesh Gaichor of Kabir Kala Manch said, “We may have objections about each other, but it is time to keep aside such objections and come together with a common agenda against the new Peshwas.”
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines
- The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.