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I Was There When The Bhima Koregaon Riots Happened, And This Is What I Saw

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Originally written by Sharda Navale in Marathi

Translated by Nidhi Bansod


The Vijay Sthamb (Victory Pillar) at Bhima Koregaon, is a symbol of pride and self-esteem for the Bahujan Samaj. It’s the source of inspiration for many. It is the place where many pay homage and respect to their ancestors and the great martyr soldiers of the Bhima Koregaon battle. They also participate in the ‘Rajya-sthariya Bouddha Sahitya Sammelan’ (State-level Buddha Literature Convention) held at Sanaswadi, for which me and other poets and activists were present in Bhima Koregaon for two days (December 31, 2017 – January 1, 2018)

On January 1, 2018, an armed casteist mob (comprising of people majorly from the Maratha community) violently attacked Bhima Koregaon, Shikrapur, Sanaswadi, Perne and brought these villages to a halt. Peaceful and un-armed Bahujans, who gathered at Bhima Koregaon to pay their gratitude, were attacked by a violent casteist mobs, due to which many vehicles were damaged, civilians sustained injuries, roads were blocked, etc. Throughout the morning, they forcefully closed shops in order to deprive people of food or water. People from buildings nearby were pelting stones and bottles. You must have even seen news and videos of the same.

A state-level Buddha literature convention was held at a place owned by Sudamdada Pawar, a dedicated activist from Sanaswadi. This place was near his residence as well. For many years, Sudamdada Pawar and his family have hosted the Bahujans, who visit Bhima-Koregaon to bow their head and pay respect.

To protest the cowardly attack, Sudamdada Pawar, on January 1, 2018, filed a non-cognizable complaint against unidentified persons at a local police station. That afternoon, many people who were wounded and scared for their lives came to his residence to be rescued. He enquired about them, calmed them down, sheltered them and provided food and water. He demanded police protection for the upcoming literature convention, but to no avail.

Since the main roads were blocked, we somehow left for our own destinations via Chakan in the evening, after gauging the situation. During our return, we witnessed many helpless women, children, young boys and girls as well as senior citizens. The roads were messy with shattered pieces of glass and damaged vehicles.

Meanwhile, at Sanaswadi, after the literature convention was over, and the sun had set, a communal-casteist mob attacked Sudamdada Pawar’s residence. They vandalized the vehicles of seven or eight fellow literati. They broke and damaged the gate and shamiana too. They didn’t stop here. They even burned his farm. Up till yesterday noon, approximately 100-150 women were sheltered at his residence. Currently, Sudamdada Pawar has been given police protection.

“Manusmruti” had come to life long back, and the only formality that remains is its declaration. As per the “Manusmruti”, Bahujans, i.e. shudras and ati-shudras are prohibited from having any property.  “You are our slaves” – that is what this clearly indicates, and by keeping in mind to what it suggests – communal, casteist people damaged the vehicles of Bahujans. Buddha’s thoughts were buried in this land, which was reinvigorated by Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar. Now efforts are being made to denature it and bury Dr Ambedkar thoughts.

For thousands of years, the Bahujans are facing atrocities. We are still struggling against the caste system, against the attacks mentioned above, for our pride, self-esteem, and our rights to justice.

Before the pre-independence era, we had many other knowledgeable people from our community like Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar, but after 1956, Dhamma Diksha, the ‘Panther’ Buddha community is fighting the battle alone, while we are reaping the benefits of reservation. How long should such a thing continue?

We should identify and recognise our true friends and foes, and we should participate and contribute to each battle: for our right to justice along with our fellow Buddha comrades! Right from the Una–Gujrat incident, UP’s Saharanpur, Buldana’s naked parade incident, to the recent armed attacks and murders of Bahujans’ think-tanks! We must take a lesson out of it, or else the risen Neo Peshwai will strike us down again.

Who knows, sooner or later, we’ll have to bear pots around our necks and brooms behind our backs again. Of course, privatisation, liberalisation, and globalisation are bound to change their course in due time, but caste – and class-based exploitation – are bound to stay as they are.

Click to see the Marathi version here.

Note: The original post and text belong to INKalab. INKalab does not condone any kind of violence. We would like for all voices to be heard loud and clear, and for the government to take actions against wrong-doers. It is not for any civilian to decide who was in the right or wrong. Requesting all parties involved to maintain peace, we stand in solidarity with Dalits in this matter and hope everything is resolved with peace. This article is subject to Copyright. The content belongs to Mrs Sharda Navle. The image is the property of CPIM Speak.

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