Two hundred years ago, Koregaon Bhima village encountered a battle. A battle which became the moment of pride for Indian Dalits. After 200 years, the same Koregaon Bhima encountered a different battle, which did not add stars to their pride but helped to spring their anger which was simmering for a very long time.
On January 1, violence occurred when people belonging to the Dalit community gathered at Koregaon Bhima to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the battle.
Reportedly, this violence was incited by the extreme right wing groups — such as as the Akhil Bhartiya Brahman Mahasabha, Hindu Aghadi, Rashtriya Ekatmata Rashtra Abhiyan. However, an FIR has been registered against politicians Jignesh Mevani and Umar Khalid for making inflammatory speeches in Pune.
This is not the first violence against or by Dalits in the nation after 2014. The people belonging to the Dalit community have been at the receiving end of many instances of violence after the BJP government came to power. The violence in Una, Saharanpur and the insult of some Dalit villagers by giving them soap before UP CM visited them are some direct or indirect attacks on people belonging to the community.
In recent times, the Dalit voters have been moving towards the BJP after the decimation of the BSP supremo Mayawati. However, this trend may reverse again after the emergence of young Dalit politicians like Chandrashekhar Azad and Jignesh Mevani. This creates a situation of worry for the BJP which was clearly visible in the 2017 Gujarat elections.
BJP employed a different tactic to woo the Dalit voters. And they also succeeded. This violence again created a catch-22 for the Bharatiya Janata Party.
Inspite of all the defamation of the BJP in the eyes of the Dalit voters, this violence may help the BJP in Maharashtra. Few months back, many people from the Maratha community agitated against the incumbent government and demanded reservations. However, as this violence has now created a rift between the Dalits (Mahars) and Marathas, the situation can be reversed. Now, again the Marathi voters may swing towards the Bharatiya Janata Party.
Apart from all the political benefits, the worst thing is that both Marathas and Dalits were at the receiving end of violence. This violence again points the finger on the mindset of the common people. Are they still so gullible that they can turn into monsters? Protesters puncturing public buses, halting the local trains and torching the vehicles again diluted the standards of our democracy. We should think about all this.