Bhima Koregaon in the Times of Hindutva

Movements as Politics

The Dalits do not celebrate the victory of the British or for that matter even the defeat of the Peshwas. What they do celebrate is their own entry into history, which was denied to them for centuries, and what they assert, thereby, is the possibility of not being reduced to the underground ascribed to them by the caste system. The violence against them at Koregaon Bhima is a manifestation of the current contestation between homogenising Hindutva and its dissenting narratives. In turn, the Dalits manage to defeat political Hindutva through their movements.

On the first day of 2018, 200 years after the third Anglo–Maratha war to commemorate which the obelisk at Bhima Koregaon in Maharashtra was erected by the British, 91 years after Babasaheb Ambedkar declared it a symbol of Mahar valour and 73 years after independence from the British, some nationalists have realised that the obelisk is in fact a symbol of British conquest. And that, celebrating “anything” to do with it is an anti-national act.

Some scholars have since waxed eloquent about how the celebration at Bhima Koregaon by the Dalits is a case of misreading an imperial conquest as a “then” non-existent anti-Brahminism struggle. They add that, in fact, those reading it as a battle for equality are delving into a myth. Others have conceded, ridiculously enough, that there are two histories depending on who is the reader—the Marathas or the Mahars—and that both the histories must coexist and so will the conflict.

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Updated On : 16th Jan, 2018

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