Dalit groups protest against Bhima-Koregaon violence, demand justice
Several lakhs of Dalits had congregated around the Victory Pillar (Vijay Stambh) erected by the British in Sanaswadi village when suddenly stone pelting started, allegedly by some right-wing groups carrying saffron flags.
Ghazanfar Abbas, IndiaTomorrow.net,
New Delhi, Jan 6: Several Dalits groups and political outfits staged protest demonstration on Friday here at Parliament Street against the Bhima-Koregaon violence five days ago in Pune city, Maharashtra in which a man was killed and many shops and vehicles were vandalised. Blaming Maharashtra governmnet failed to control the violence, they alleged that attrocities over Dalits have increased under BJP rule in the center and various states.
Speaking to IndiaTomorrow.net, Ashok Bharti, president of Republican Party of India said, "Maharashtra BJP government has proved itself as anti-Dalit. It knew that lakhs of people go in Bhima-Koregaon but no police protection was given to them. It itself involved in beaten up Dalits there."
"Dalits are oppressed. It is a good sign that oppressed class are uniting. It is not Hindus verses Dalits as several progressive sections among Hindus are with us," he said.
Balvinder Singh, president of Rashtriya Jan Kranti Manch said, "We have lost hope in government. Since this BJP government came in power, atrocities against Dalits have increased. Now this is open fight with the government."
KP Chaudhary, secretary general of All India Federation of SC/ST Organisations appealed to the state government to maintain communal harmony.
"This is the responsibility of the government to maintain communal harmony and it has to do it. If in una incident right action would have been taken against the culprits, then Saharanpur viloence not taken place and if in justice would have been served in Saharanpur inicident this Bhia-Koregaon incident not taken place. So we appeal to the government to do its duty," said Chaudhary.
Prof. Hemlata Maheshwar, Jamia Millia Islamia said, "An innocent was killed there, so why not Dalits will raise there voice? We are the citizens of this country and whenever we ask our rights we are declared as anti-nationals."
"That peaceful Vijaya Diwas of ours was not happening first time. Then why it happened when BJP is in power in state and center both. So, I want to ask who is working to break this country? In its regime the atrocities against Dalits, minorities and women have increased then who is responsible?" she asked.
Artists from Asmta Theatre group sang songs as a part of protest. (Photo - IndiaTomorrow.net)
Over the cases registered against Dalit youth leader Jignesh Mevani who is also independent MLA from Gujarat and JNU research scholar Umar Khalid she said, "The speeches of Umar Khalid and Jignesh Mevani not sedicious, those were for self-respect rather. What action has been taken against Bhede and Ekbode who delivered hate speech there?"
"They (BJP) want to impose Hindutva ideology. Actually it has problem with Dalit youth leadership," she averred.
Meanwhile Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis announced a judicial probe by a sitting High Court judge and a CID investigation into the violence.
Bhima-Koregaon violence and Protests in Maharashtra
The disturbances erupted in the village of Bhima- Koregaon on January 1 during the 200th anniversary celebrations of the Anglo-Maratha War between the army of Peshwa Bajirao II with a small force of the East India Company that comprised a large number of Dalits. Several lakhs of Dalits had congregated around the Victory Pillar (Vijay Stambh) erected by the British in Sanaswadi village when suddenly stone pelting started, allegedly by some right-wing groups carrying saffron flags.
In the clashes that ensued between the two groups, more than 30 vehicles, including buses, police vans and private vehicles, were torched or damaged and one youth, Rahul Fatangale, 28 of Nanded lost his life. Two local leaders named Sambhaji Bhide and Milind Ekbote linked with ruling BJP allegedly instigated the Bhima-Koregaon riots.
The Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh, a Dalit party headed by Prakash Ambedkar - the grandson of Bharat Ratna B.R. Ambedkar, called for a 'peaceful Maharashtra shutdown' on Wednesday to express anger over the Pune incidents.
On the call, thousands of Dalits took to the streets in various parts of the state demanding action against the perpetrators of the Pune riots.
Demand of release of Chandrashekhar Azad
In the protest, Dalit leaders also demanded release of Chandrashekhar Azad, chief of Bhim Army, accused in the Saharanpur violence in May last year. Uttar Pradesh government lad by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had imposed sedition charges on Azad after his release on bail granted by the Allahabad high court in November last year.
Ashok Bharti said, "The case of NSA (National Security Act) against Chandrashekhar is politically motivated. The state government is worried over the emergence of Dalits. Since they are not able to face our political ideology, so they are using power."
"We want to tell Yogi ji, we have just started our caravan, soon we will reach Lucknow too," he said.
Over the issue KP Chaudhary said, "Through memorendum we have urged to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi as well as Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and the SC/ST commissions to interve in the matter for his release."
"NSA against Chandrashekhar is injustice as he got bail from Allahabad High Court before sedition charges imposed against him," he averred.
Besides them other groups included in the protest were Rashtriya Dalit Mahasangh, Bhim Army, Satnami Yuva Manch, Bhartiya Samvidhan Adhikar Sabha, Jai Bhim Yuva Sena, The Great Ambedkarites and Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar Dalit Uthan Samiti.