Skip to main content

Bhima-Koregaon clash: There is hegemonic appropriation, or rather misappropriation, of the concept of nationalism

By Adv Masood Peshimam
There is always the good narrative dominantly favoring virtues of Peshwai Raj but battle lines drawn at Bhima Koregaon between Britishers and Marathas with the significant inclusion of Mahar regiment create an exception. Sometimes there is the historical twist to display glass as diamond. The Bhima-Koregaon clash between Britishers and Marathas is not seen in the context of British-Maratha war. It is the culmination of the outburst of the Dalit anger against the tyranny unleased over the Dalits or the backward caste people. The Britishers created the Mahar regiment from the people who suffered worsening plight at the hands of Peshwa or the prevailing socio economic conditions. The Dalits suffered the worst suppression and oppression. The Britishers were ready to take the advantage of the exacerbated relations between Marathas and the Dalits or the Mahars.
The battle at Bhima-koregaon was fought between the Britishers & the Marathas in which Marathas suffered the humiliating defeat. To commemorate the battle against the Peshwa fought 200 years ago a large chunk of Dalits congregated at Bhima Koregaon. Certain eyebrows were raised by certain quarters like paying respect to the slain Dalit soldiers fighting for the Britishers.
It is said that the commemoration of the victory of the Dalits 200 years back is not in tune with the ingredients of nationalism. However, nationalism itself has become subjective and there is hegemonic appropriation or rather misappropriation of the concept of nationalism. It is in the name of nationalism the cultural arrogance of the dominant communities is asserted at the cost of the cultural aspirations of the people remaining on the weakest politico-economic turf.
Those raising eyebrows against the commemoration of the historic Bhima-Koregaon battle are expected to kindly note that Prime Minister Modi while visiting France had paid respect to the Slain Indian soldiers who fought with the British army. There are other parallels in other countries close to such incident involving paying respect to the slain Indian soldiers defending the British interest. Such double standards are all the more manifest when Narendra Modi who refused to wear Muslim skull cap paid respectful visit to the Masjid in Dubai.
It is not out of context to say that Gandhiji who initiated the Khilafat movement with the Ali brothers offered co-operation to the Britishers in the 2nd world war with a view to defeat and Nazism and fascism, though Britain was damaging the Turkish interest.
The British promised to give freedom in exchange of co-operation but retracted later which made Gandhiji to announce the Quit India Movement in 1942.
Gandhiji offered solace and relief to the Dalit community over its deep predicament at the hands of high caste people and all the high caste people cannot be blamed for this.
Mulk Raj Anand, the great novelist touched upon the efforts of Gandhiji in applying soothing balm over the oppressed and suppressed backward community in his legendary novel “The Untouchable”. Mulk Raj Anand painted the predicament of a Dalit boy who suffered all the atrocities and humiliations whose survival was at stake with his injured pride. Those offering relief to that victimized Dalit boy also threw the eatables which got mixed up with the dirt and refuse making the eatable difficult to eat. The money was also thrown at him in such an insulting manner which explained the deep sense of deprivation. The relief offered to the low caste boy tantamount to the denial of relief thus aggravating his plight.
It is the plethora of such incidents which fans the rise of aspiration to assert the identity of the Dalits in the wake of sharpening socio-political conflict.
Hence given the complexities and the need of the situation there was no reason to disturb the gathering of the Dalits to mark the historical event of 200 years earlier.
It is the alleged rabble rousing of the hotheads like Sambhaji Bhide of Samast Hindu Aghadi and Milind Ekbote of the Shiv Pratishtan Hindustan which created all the more turmoil. There were criminal complaints filed against the duo but no arrest has been made so far. It appears that the government is looking the other way when there is the violation of law by high and mighty.
Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh leader Prakash Ambedkar demanded the arrest of duo without any further loss of time combating the contention that Bhide and Ekbote were not present on the site.
Ambedkar said, the Supreme Court while hearing the Mumbai blast case has said that even if Yakub Memon was not present at the incident site he knew conspiracy. Similarly, these two (Bhide and Ekbote), even if not in Pune, knew of the plan and were inciting the mob. Whether Yakub Memon was present at the incident site or not is a different matter what is significant to note is the feeling in some quarters that he had paid the price for his audacity in asking as to why no punishment was meted out to those who with all the impunity were fanning the flames in the worst ever communal violence in Mumbai in the wake of demolition of Babri Masjid.
Another unfortunate aspect of the whole episode is that while Yakub Memon was hanged to death those who inflamed the communal fire were left scot free and so far went unpunished. Instead the police officials indicted by Sri Krishna Commission received all the promotions in the Congress Government.
Veteran journalist Jyoti Punwani rendered great services to the cause of justice while deposing before the Sri Krishna Commission. Kudos and appreciation to Punwani!
With reference to Koregaon Bhima violence the blame is equally laid on the two firebrands like Jignesh Mewani and Umar Khalid. Both were not present on the site to ignite the divisive caste fire. Besides, these duo have no potential to provoke the Dalits to allegedly flex their muscles. The eruption of violence in the wake of Bhima Koregaon clash is the case of mob psychology. Mob many a time loses the control and does not know the issue to the depth.
There was unprecedented escalation of violence in Maharashtra in the wake of alleged attack over the gathering of the Dalits in Bhima-Koregaon to celebrate the historical event.
While Ekbote and Bhide despite their names figuring in the FIR are emboldened to talk to the media there is the combing operation against the Dalits. Advocate Anand Khanderao and Advocate Kakde of Kalyan Court and P.D. Dongre, a Dalit leader strongly condemned the intensity and high handedness of the combing operation against the innocent Dalits.
Prakash Ambedkar’s strong protest against the absence of arrest of Ekbote and Bhide for fueling communal tension against Dalits did not produce the result as they are still at large.
Concerning Umar Khalid he is blamed for espousing the cause of freedom of Kashmir which he has denied constantly. He has raised the gross Human right violation in Kashmir. There is no harm in condemning the increasing human right violation in Kashmir while condemning and deploring the scourge of terrorism.
Umar Khalid while leading the student and other liberal movements declared himself as an atheist. Umar Khalid has got every right to disown his religion but where is the need to spread the impression to that effect. Is it to gain credibility? There were a lot of Muslims who had disowned Islam but never declared so. They became Muslims after their death like Khawaja Ahmad Abbas and Kaifi Azmi. Their relatives declared them Muslim after their death for burial in Quabristan or cemetery.
Khawaja Ahmad Abbas, a veteran Journalist who introduced legendary super star Amitabh Bachchan to Bollywood used to write on the last page of Blitz maintaining distance from Islam or the Muslim cause. There was the breed of progressive writers and poets like Kaifi Azmi, Ali Sardar Jafri, Nida Fazli, Majrooh, Krishna Chand and the rest who were known to have denied to swear allegiance to their faith.
Umar Khalid despite his religiously irreligious pronouncement is treated as Muslim in political terms and his troubles with the Hindutva or communal forces would not remain undiminished with his atheist pronouncements.
Ramdas Athawle, the Dalit leader while defending Jignesh Mewani does not refer to Umar Khalid.
What is no less significant to note that there has emerged a Dalit group which has gone in favour of Bhide and Ekbote. Any communal stance or flavor to the Dalit movement of whatever group would seriously weaken the Dalit cause or the cause of the oppressed or suppressed people irrespective of any consideration of caste or creed.
There is the dwelling or basti of sizeable number of Dalits alongside Muslims and Marathas at Waldhuni, kalyan in Maharashtra living in harmony and love for generations together. An old rikshawala Hussain Shaikh told me that this basti or dwelling is never witness to the communal violence since 1947. He drew my attention to this phenomena with all the pleasure and glee in the small gulli or lane plying the rikshaw.
His saner and prudent words are symbolic of the need to forge unity of the untouchables irrespective of caste and creed with the untouchability of bigotry and narrow mindedness.

Comments

TRENDING

Economist-editor's allegations on Narmada defamatory, baseless: Medha Patkar

Counterview Desk  In a reply directly addressed to well-known economist, journalist and columnist Swaminathan S Anklesaria Aiyar’s two articles in the Times of India (republished here and here ), calling them defamatory and wondering whether they were borne out of “ignorance or a conspiracy through political alliance”, Narmada Bachao Andolan leader Medha Pakar has said that the Narmada Sardar Saravar Project and the people's movement by adivasis, farmers, labourers, fish workers, potters and all the generations’ old communities from the river valley have suddenly come to be focused on, since the Gujarat elections are in the doorstep. She believes that while the “defamatory accusations with baseless conceptions such as ‘urban naxals’ are to be laughed at as the electoral strategic moves, one gets shocked to read the articles by a known old columnist like Swaminathan Ankalesaria Aiyar, published in a reputed daily like the Times of India." According to her, Aiyar’s two articl

Hindutva groups threat to peace, freedom: US diaspora groups tell FBI, other govt depts

By Our Representative  The Islamophobic and neo-Nazi ideology of Hindutva is a clear and present danger to peace and freedoms in the United States, a coalition of civil rights organizations told key officials of the U.S. Attorney General’s Office, the US Department of Justice (DOJ), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) at a recent event in Edison, New Jersey. At the event titled United Against Hate, activists from American Muslims for Democracy (AMD), Hindus for Human Rights (HfHR) and Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC) made detailed presentations on this ideology of Hindu supremacism that is committing mass persecution of India’s Muslims and Christians and is rearing its ugly head in New Jersey as well as across the US. Attending the event were David S Leonardis, Special Investigator from the New Jersey Department of Law & Public Safety; Michael E Campion, Chief of the Civil Rights Division for the US Attorney General's Office; and Jonathan R Norbut of the U.S. Dep

Facing tough times, Rajasthan's Raika herders hold first-ever camel cheese festival

By Rosamma Thomas*  During the pandemic, the annual Pushkar camel fair in Rajasthan did not occur for fear of contagion; in 2022, it was called off again as lumpy skin disease affected cattle. At Sadri in Pali district, however, festivity continues – a two-day Camel Cheese Festival was held on November 23 and 24, 2022. Visitors spent time with the camel herds and their Raika, drank camel-milk tea with the herders and then returned to lunch at the Kumbhalgarh Camel Dairy, from where the Kumbhalgarh Fort is visible, to taste camel cheese. The Raika herders have been facing a tough time – camels are no longer used as much for transport or agriculture in Rajasthan. The animals have limited utility, but their milk is prized. Camel Charisma, the dairy at Kumbhalgarh, sends camel milk across the country to people who use it in therapy – for autistic children, improved blood sugar levels, or even to treat cancer. It is believed that the health benefits of the camel milk is because the animals

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

As polls approach, electorate 'failing to realise': Gujarat model is in a shambles

By DN Rath*  Gujarat assembly elections, scheduled to be held on 1 and 5 December 2022, is viewed by many as dress rehearsal for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. When the suffering people have been pointing towards redressal of some local issues like absence of cleanliness, sewage problem, shortage of water supply, troubles created by stray cattle, insufficiency of streetlights, etc., it is evident that they are not fully aware that assembly elections are being fought on ideological standpoints and policy decisions. Nor is there the realisation that the state is in a shambles and the much-trumpeted ‘Gujarat model’ of development has proved to be a hoax. Like other states, the people of Gujarat are also back-broken by steep rise in prices to the tune of 400% in last 20 years. It is not that the government cannot control the spurt in prices if it so wants. Apart from the fact that price rise is an inevitability in a capitalist economy, artificial shortage triggered by massive hoarding, b

Shedding Hindu-Hindi-Hindustan? New Modi-Shah love for Tamil Nadu 'ignores' Periyar

By Sandeep Pandey*   The Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) or the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) have long argued for ‘Hindu-Hindi-Hindustan’, which into recent years has translated into a crisper English expression: ‘One Nation-One Religion-One Language’. Given this backdrop, it is curious that the BJP government has organised the Kashi Tamil Sangamam in Varanasi, the Prime Minister’s constituency. Why did the BJP and RSS feel the need for such an event? All Narendra Modi events are highly publicised and have multiple political objectives. It is never an innocuous religious/cultural event as it may appear from the face of it. Afterall, RSS calls itself a cultural organisation, but has never ceased to surprise us with its political designs. Tamil Nadu has a long history of opposing imposition of Hindi by Union governments. Periyar EV Ramasamy had opposed the idea of compulsory teaching in Hindi as far back as in 1937. The 1960s witnessed violent protests against Hindi in which a number

Amit Shah accused of inciting communal passion: Demand to postpone Gujarat polls

Counterview Desk  In an email representation to the Election Commission of India (ECI), Dr EAS Sarma, former secretary to the Government of India, has objected to the statement reported to have been made by Union home minister Amit Shah, who allegedly justified the 2002 Gujarat riots stating that certain sections of people “taught a lesson” to the rioters. Noting that the statement, if correct, “in effect implies those other than the law enforcement authorities had taken law into their hands”, Sarma says, “Shah's statement needs to be viewed by the ECI in conjunction with the reported fact that it was the Union Home Ministry that cleared the release of the eleven rape convicts in the Bilkis Bano case, directly related to the infamous Godhra incidents in 2002, which triggered the shameful sequence of events that shook the nation's conscience.” According to Sarma, if the statement is true, “I am constrained to draw the inevitable inference that it would have already impacted th

BJP poll gimmick? Bilkis Bano rape case 'pardon' vs Rajiv assassins' release

By Sandeep Pandey*  Supreme Court has released six convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case. This was bound to happen as earlier AG Perarivalan was released in the same case, setting a precedent. Even though four of them are Sri Lankans but a popular Tamil sentiment favoured the release of these convicts which is why Tamil political parties supported this and resolutions were passed by different governments in Tamil Nadu to his effect.  Rajiv Gandhi paid the price of sending Indian Peace Keeping Force to Sri Lanka where it got entangled with Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and eventually the whole operation ended up is a fiasco.  However, most importantly Sonia and Priyanka Gandhi and probably Rahul too do not have any objections to the release of these convicts. In fact, Sonia Gandhi played an important role in getting the death sentence of the only lady among the convicts Nalini commuted to life term through the Tamil Nadu Governor. Priyanka visited Nalini in Vellore Jail and

Diminishing returns: Hydro projects contribute less than 10% of India's power generation

Counterview Desk  Pointing out that India’s hydro generation remains around 10% for the last six years, the advocacy group South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP) has said that power generation from hydropower projects continues to show diminishing returns, as has been the story close to three decades now. Yet, says SANDRP in a note, the Government of India continues to push large hydro by announcing a slew of additional subsidies for hydropower projects, more for political economy reason. In fact, attempts are being made to flog unviable hydropower projects with various kind of manipulations, illegalities and violations, it adds. Text : In last six years, from 2016-17 to 2021-22, India’s large hydropower projects (projects above 25 MW installed capacity) have contributed just around 10% of the total power generation, going as low as 9.68% in 2017-18. In fact, in three of these six years, large hydro contributed less than 10% and recovering only marginally in the rest,

Odisha survey reveals 56% children have not attended any classes post-pandemic

By Our Representative   The Learning Recovery Programme (LRP) has been taken up by the state government's Odisha School Education Programme Authority (OSEPA) to provide a learning opportunity to students to make up for losses in studies due to the closure of schools on account of the Covid-19 pandemic. However, lack of awareness among children and their parents and absence of robust monitoring have blocked its effective implementation, reveals a pilot fact-finding study conducted by the NGO Atmashakti Trust. The pilot study was conducted with school-going children in two blocks of the Nuapada district, where over 500 grassroots workers divided into 33 groups visited 68 schools in one day and interviewed 115 children to understand the implementation of LRP. The study was a part of its 26-day nationwide campaign, "Education Cannot Wait. Act Now!" which kickstarted on November 15, comprising Odisha, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, where