To commemorate the bicentenary of the epic Battle of Bhima-Koregaon, which took place in 1818, members of the Bhima Koregaon Shauryadin Prerna Abhiyan Committee have planned an extensive schedule of events which will take place on December 31, 2017 at Shaniwarwada.
“Shaniwarwada is the seat of the Peshwas who committed many atrocities on the lower castes during their rule. There is a new Peshwa rule where current leaders are speaking against the constitution and dividing us in the name of religion. We are here to speak against that,” says Jyoti Jagtap, member of the organising committee and of Kabir Kala Manch.
Over 250 different organisations spread across Maharashtra have joined together to take part in ‘Elgaar Parishad’. Radhika Vemula, mother of late Rohith Vemula, will be inaugurating the event.
Rohith Vemula was a research scholar at University of Hyderabad, who committed suicide in January 2016 due to actions that were reportedly taken by the university against him. His suicide sparked outrage and protests across the country against caste discrimination.
The event will also see speakers including newly-elected MLA from Gujarat, Jignesh Mevani, Jawaharlal Nehru University student and activist Umar Khalid, Soni Sori, a tribal rights activist from Chhattisgarh, Prashant Ambedkar, grandson of Dr B R Ambedkar and leader of Bharip Bahujan Mahasangh, Prashant Dontha, Ambedkar Students’ Association, Hyderabad and Maulana Abdul Hamid Azhari of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board.
The event which will be held 2 pm onwards will be presided over by retired Supreme Court Justice P B Sawant.
Speaking of the various names associated with this event, Jagtap further adds, “We may not all agree with each other, but we are here to form a common front to fight for democracy and tolerance.”
Various Hindu groups in the city are against the event being held at Shaniwarwada, claiming it to be ‘unconstitutional’ and ‘anti-national’. Of this, Jagtap responds, “We have obtained all the necessary permissions from the Pune Municipal Corporation to hold the event at Shaniwarwada. It is an event for democracy as we fight against the injustices done to Dalits and other minorities. We are also in the process of obtaining police permission.”
Expecting as many as two to three thousand people for this, the event will conclude with everyone heading towards the pillar of Bhima-Koregaon. This site was visited by Dr Ambedkar first in 1927 and has since become a pilgrimage for several people. They celebrate the victory of 500 soldiers of the Mahar Regiment under British forces against the Peshwas who had 25,000 soldiers.
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