The Vijay Sthamb (Victory Pillar) at Bhima Koregaon, is a symbol of pride and self-esteem for Bahujan Samaj. It’s the source of inspiration for many. To pay homage and respect to the ancestors and great martyr soldiers of the Bhima Koregaon Battle and also to participate in ‘Rajya-sthariya Bouddha Sahitya Sammelan’ (State-level Buddha Literature Convention) held at Sanaswadi, other poets and I along with activists were present at Bhima Koregaon for two days namely 31.12.2017 – 01.01.2018
On 01.01.2018, an armed mob violently attacked Bhima Koregaon, Shikrapur, Sanaswadi, Perne and brought these villages to halt. Peaceful and un-armed Bahujan who gathered at Bhima Koregaon, to pay homage, were cowardly attacked by casteists mobs in which many vehicles were damaged, and several people were injured and bleeding. The roads were blocked, and right from morning they forcefully closed shops in order to deprive gathered people of food or water. People from buildings nearby were pelting stones and bottles. Even you must have seen news and videos of the same.
Bhima Koregaon- Sanaswadi
The State-level Buddha Literature Convention was held at a place owned by a dedicated activist from Sanaswadi, 80-year-old Sudamdada Pawar. The place was near to his residence as well. For many years, Sudamdada Pawar and his family host the Bahujans, who visits Bhima Koregaon to bow their head and pay respect. On account of the cowardly attack, Sudamdada Pawar on 01.01.2018 filed a N.C complaint against unidentified persons at the local police station. That day in the afternoon, many people who were wounded and scared for their lives came for safety to his residence. He enquired about them and calmed them down, gave them shelter and also provided food and water. He demanded police protection for the literature convention but to no avail. Since the roads were blocked, after gauging the situation, we left the place to return to our respective places via Chakan in the evening. While returning, we witnessed many helpless ladies, children, young boys and girls, senior citizens at frequent distance en-route. Roads were messy with shattered pieces of glass and damaged vehicles.
Meanwhile, there at Sanaswadi, after the literature convention was over, and the sun had set, Sudamdada Pawar’s residence was cowardly attacked by the casteist mob. They vandalized the 7-8 vehicles of fellow literati. They broke and damaged the gate and shamiana too. They didn’t stop here, they even burned his farm. Until yesterday’s , approximately 100-150 females were there at his residence. Currently, Sudamdada Pawar has been given police protection.
Manusmruti has come to life, long back, the only formality that remains is- it’s declaration. As per Manusmruti, Bahujans i.e. shudras and ati– shudras are prohibited from having any property. By keeping in mind what it suggests, communal, casteist people, damaged the vehicles of Bahujans. “You are our slaves” that is what it clearly indicates. Buddha’s thoughts were buried in this land, which was reinvigorated by Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar. Now efforts are being made to denature and bury Dr. Ambedkar thoughts.
From thousands of years, our Bahujans are facing atrocities and we are still struggling against it.
Against aforementioned cowardly attack, and for our pride, self-esteem, for the right to justice, Buddhist comrades have fiercely commenced their fight. Before pre-independence era, we had many other knowledgeable persons from our community with Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar, but after 1956 Dhamma Diksha, ‘Panther’ Buddhist 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 recognize our true friends and foes, and we should participate and contribute to every single battle for our right to justice along with our fellow Buddhist comrades…. Right from Una– Gujrat’s incident, UP’s Saharanpur, Buldhana’s naked parade incident, to cowardly armed attacks and murders of Bahujans, bahujan thinker we must take a lesson out of it…or else new peshwai has arisen. Soon, we’ll have to bear pots around neck and broom behind our back. Of course, privatization, liberalization, globalization is bound to change their course in due time but caste – and class-based exploitation are bound to stay, as it is.
Sharda Navale is a teacher with the BMC for the last 32 years. She is a published poetess and very active in the Dalit Ambedkarite feminist movement. She also runs a NGO called Savitribai Phule Katta Vichar Manch for DAB women’s empowerment.
Translated from Marathi to English by Nidhi Bansod.