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Bhima Koregaon violence: Prakash Ambedkar meets Fadnavis, seeks action against Sambhaji Bhide

By Vikas

Dalit activist Prakash Ambedkar on Monday (March 26) met Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and sought action against Right-wing leader Sambhaji Bhide, who has been accused of inciting Bhima-Koregaon violence in January this year. Ambedkar, a leader of Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh, also submitted what he claims to be evidence in Bhima Koregaon Violence case to the CM.

Dalit activist Prakash Ambedkar addressing the media after meeting CM Fadnavis

"We have been assured that actions will be taken within 8 days and therefore, the government is trying to reach Sambhaji Bhide," Prakash Ambedkar, the grandson of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar, told the media after meeting Fadnavis.

Ambedkar had earlier today said that Sambhaji Bhide should be arrested within a week for inciting the January 1 riots in Bhima-Koregaon.

Addressing the 'Elgar Morcha', taken out with the demand to arrest the Shiv Prathishthan founder, at Azad Maidan in south Mumbai, Ambedkar said, "the BJP-led government in Maharashtra should not protect Bhide and arrest him in seven-eight days for inciting the anti-Dalit violence. The government should do its duty and not that of a court".

"If the number two accused in the case-- Hindu Ekta Parishad leader Milin Ekbote--has been arrested, why has Bhide been let off the hook? I am aware that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is shielding Bhide," he was quoted as saying by a PTI report.

[Bhima Koregaon violence: Protests spread to Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat]

Bhide and Ekbote are in the spotlight for allegedly "orchestrating" violence in January against Dalits during the 200th anniversary celebrations of the Anglo-Maratha War where the army of Peshwa Bajirao II was vanquished by a small force of the East India Company that comprised a large number of Dalits. A youth was killed during the caste clashes, triggering protests across Maharashtra.

What was Battle of Koregaon all about?

The Battle of Koregaon was fought on 1 January 1818 between the British East India Company and the Peshwa faction of the Maratha Confederacy, at Koregaon Bhima. The 28,000-strong Marathas, led by Peshwa Baji Rao II intended to attack Pune. On their way, they were met by an 800-strong Company force that was on its way to reinforce the British troops in Pune. The Peshwa dispatched around 2,000 soldiers to attack the Company force stationed in Koregaon.

Led by Captain Francis Staunton, the Company troops defended their position for nearly 12 hours. The Marathas ultimately withdrew, fearing the arrival of a larger British force led by General Joseph Smith. The Company troops included predominantly Mahar Dalit soldiers belonging to the Bombay Native Infantry, and therefore the Dalit activists regard the battle as a heroic episode in Dalit history.

The 'Mahars' were considered untouchable in the contemporary caste-based society. They see the Koregaon battle as a symbol of their victory over the high-caste oppression. Dr. B. R. Ambedkar visited the site on 1 January 1927. To commemorate his visit to the site, now thousands of his followers visit the site every New Year's Day.

OneIndia News with PTI inputs

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