There have been countless reams of paper painted with articles and news items on recent Bhima-Koregaon incident. Most of these are propaganda or at best, half-truths about Bhima Koregaon violence.
The violence and the reaction were neither spontaneous nor natural. To understand the chain of events we will need to look at three related aspects, past incidents leading to Bhima Korengaon violence, the people accused and the people who organized the demonstrations.
Leading Up to Bhima Koregaon Violence
A week before the incident (late December) the villagers saw a new flex on the tomb of one Ganpat Gaikwad in Bhima Koregaon. The flex claimed that Gaikwad had cremated Chattrapati Sambhaji after his mortal remains were thrown by Aurangzeb. The villagers were angry at this and they demanded the flex to be removed. As per popular belief two Patil families collected Sambhaji’s remains and cremated. Patils come from Maratha community.
The descendants of the families are called Vechale Patil and Shivale Patil. Vechale is Marathi term for ‘collected’ and Shivale is for sewed. So, one Patil family collected Sambhaji’s remains and other family sewed the body parts together for cremation as per popular belief of the villagers.
The flex however remained there as Dalits opposed the removal. One night someone damaged the flex. This caused a tension between Dalits and Marathas in the village.
Also, notably all over Pune and Mumbai posters had come out for event in Bhima-Koregaon scheduled on 31st December. The event was for commemorating the alleged victory of British over Peshwas, where Mahars (a caste under schedule caste list) took part as well. The posters in Marathi claimed “Bhima Koregaon ne dilay dhada, navi peshawai la masanat gada”. This loosely means “as shown by Bhima-Koregaon (reference to the battle between Peshwa and British armies), kill and cremate the new Peshawas”. The new Peshwas was an obvious reference to Fadnavis Government. While event to commemorate Bhima-Koregaon was not new, the political undertone this time was too obvious.
Flex incident and the contents of the posters both point to a deliberate plan to destabilize Maharashtra’s social and political stability. Probably the organizers thought that the event will not be allowed by the Maharashtra government and they will get a chance to demonstrate (and spread violence) across Maharashtra against a ‘fascist’ BJP government. However, the plan somehow derailed when Maharashtra Chief Minister, Devendra Fadnavis not only let the event be organized but also sent two of his ministers to take part in the event. This he decided despite clear indication that the event is being used against his own government.
Stone pelting on the crowd gathered for Bhima Koregaon event was recorded on 31st December. People protested against this on 1st of January. During the protest one person got killed. Most of the national newspapers reported this incident together with the previous incident. They gave an impression that there was attack on the crowd gathered for event and one person died. For few days, most people thought that someone who was part of the event died. Organizers filed FIR against Milind Ekbote and Sambhaji Bhide.
Before going into who these two accused are, let’s examine what happened. As said earlier after alleged stone pelting on 31st December, a demonstration was organized on 1st Jan against the stone pelting. As reported by a local Marathi Paper, the deceased Rahul Babaji Phatangale, a Maratha youth, was returning from his work when the crowd beat him mercilessly. So, the crowd and the organizers of demonstration were the real culprits of the death. This proves that Ekbote and Bhide are only accused of stone pelting and not murder as the narrative was built in media and by the organizers with the help of media. In fact, with this death and earlier with Fadnavis’ checkmate by sending two ministers for the event, the organizers were now stuck with a possible accusation of murder and no political mileage from event which they had hoped for. Therefore, a new narrative was built that Ekbote and Bhide attacked Dalits in which one person died. MSM was only too willing to play ball with vested political interests in twisting the story for the narrative.
Now coming back to Bhide and Ekbote, both of them are known for their social work and staunch right-wing views. Both have worked for Hindu unity in their area. They constantly worked to remove caste based discrimination in society in villages around Pune. Naturally they become the biggest enemies for people trying to break Hindu society along the caste lines. They also become easy target when someone is trying to make a case that Hindu Right is against Dalits, howsoever false this propaganda may be. Therefore, it’s not shocking to see the organizers blaming the duo. In all possibilities, no charges can be proved in the court of law.
The people or organizers involved in any event always gives out the real intentions behind the event and any incidents which may happen after such events. Let’s see who were the organizers and the speakers in the Bhima Koregaon event. The organizers were so called “Yalgar Parishad”. This organization was created as a front for this event and based on local newspaper reports (and also as reported by Navbharat Times), the police suspects that it’s a front created by Naxalite organizations active in Maharashtra. As per the time-table of the event, the stage anchoring was done by Vira Sathidar and Sagar Gorkhe. Both are artists and known for their pro-Naxal views. In fact, Sagar Gorkhe spent some time in Jail as well in connection with support to Naxalites. Then the speakers were Umar Khalid, a known Jihad sympathizer, Soni Sori, Naxal Sympathizer from Chattisgarh, Vinay Ratan Singh whose Bhim Army is accused of caste riots in Saharanpur in addition other speakers. It is also rumored that PFI, a notorious Muslim organization was also involved in the event.
The list of speakers and people trusted with stage anchoring says a lot about who were behind the event and what were their real intentions. The Naxals and their supporters from Islamic organizations are trying to destabilize the otherwise peaceful Maharashtra societies in Villages by playing caste card. It’s important that people understand their nefarious plans and stay away from such organizations and from events organized by them.