Bhima-Koregaon: Hindutva leader Sambhaji Bhide faces protests by Bhim Army activists

Dalit activists protested against controversial Hindutva leader Sambhaji Bhide, who is accused of inciting caste violence near Bhima-Koregaon village in Pune

PTI photo
PTI photo

NH Web Desk

Dalit activists on Sunday, December 16, protested against controversial Hindutva leader Sambhaji Bhide, who is accused of inciting caste violence near Koregaon-Bhima village in Pune district in January this year.

Activists of dalit outfit Bhim Army gathered outside the venue of Bhide's speech, which was held in a school hall in suburban Sewree, and staged demonstrations. Police detained several protesters from the spot.

Initially, the event was scheduled to be held in Lalbaug in central Mumbai, but was subsequently shifted to a school in Sewri (west) after police didn't grant a permission, a police official said.

He said no clearance was required from police for the Sewri programme, as it was organised inside a hall.

Dalit groups commemorate the 1818 battle as the East India Company’s army consisted of Mahars, a Dalit community, who defeated the upper-caste Peshwas forces. However, some Hindutva organisations had opposed the commemoration this time

Bhim Army supporters then staged protests outside the school ground.

Meanwhile, Bhide, who heads Shivpratishthan Hindustan, went on to address the gathering in the hall without any disturbance.

Nitin Chougule, a senior leader of Shiv Pratishthan, claimed that the protest was politically motivated.

"The violence near Pune had taken place almost a year back. No one could prove Bhide Guruji's involvement in it, still he has been frequently accused of being anti-dalit", he said.

Bhide was booked by Pune rural police in the wake of caste clashes near Koregaon-Bhima village in January this year.

Dalit groups commemorate the 1818 battle as the East India Company’s army consisted of Mahars, a Dalit community, who defeated the upper-caste Peshwas forces. However, some Hindutva organisations had opposed the commemoration this time.

A senior journalist, Dhawale was the organiser of the Elgar Parishad gathering on December 31, in Shaniwarwada, Pune, through the leftist Kabir Kala Manch, which triggered a series of major political developments earlier this year. The gathering was addressed, among others, by Gujarat Dalit leader and MLA Jignesh Mewani, JNU student leader Umar Khalid, Chhattisgarh activist Soni Sori and Bhim Army President Vinay Ratan Singh.

A day later on January 1, unprecedented violence broke out against Dalits who had congregated at Bhima-Koregaon near Pune to pay tribute to Dalit soldiers, who were part of the British army which had fought against the Peshwas in 1818.

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