The clashes which broke out between Dalits and Marathas in Pune on Monday, January 1, during an event to mark the 200th anniversary of the Bhima Koregaon Battle spilled over to Mumbai on Tuesday. Traffic in and around Mumbai was affected as protesters blocked roads at several important junctions in the city.
At least one person was killed and several vehicles were torched in large scale violence on Monday which took place as Dalit and Maratha groups clashed during an event organised to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Bhima Koregaon Battle.
The battle of Bhima Koregaon was fought on January 1, 1818. Some Dalit leaders and thinkers view its outcome as a victory of oppressed classes over the upper-caste establishment of those times.
Dalit leaders commemorate the British victory, as it is believed that soldiers from the Mahar community – then considered untouchable – were part of the East India Company’s forces.
On January 1, 1818, Maratha ruler Peshwa Baji Rao II led a 28,000-strong force to attack Pune. The Marathas were challenged by a unit of East India Company which mainly comprised Dalits. The 800-strong Company force, stationed at Koregaon, successfully stood ground for 12 hours against the Marathas. Baji Rao II had to ultimately ask his men to pull back fearing attack by a bigger British Army contingent which was on its way.
According to British records, about 500 to 600 Maratha soldiers were killed or injured in the battle. On the other hand, about 275 British soldiers were killed and wounded.