BHIMA KOREGAON CASE
“I like the religion that teaches liberty, equality and fraternity” – Dr. B.R. Ambedkar.
India is characterized by more ethnic and religious groups than other countries in the world. The socio-cultural and demographic dimension of diversity in the Indian context has sometimes spilled over into violence numerous times in the years since independence.
The racism, extremism and superiority complex is the only reason for the clashes between the Indian communities.
WHAT IS THE MATTER?
The incident dates back to the year 1st January, 2018 which marked the 200th year of the historic 1818 battle of Bhim - Koregaon and hence there was a larger gathering at Bhila Koregaon. During the celebration there were tremors of the violence between Dalits and Marathas, which left one dead near Koregaon village, Maharashtra. Mumbai, Pune and several other parts of Maharastra remained on edge a day after the clash.
BATTLE OF KOREGAON
The Battle of Koregoan was fought on 1 January 1818 between the British East India Company and the Peshwa faction of the Maratha Confederacy, at Koregaon Bhima.
A 28,000 – strong force was led by Peshwa Baji Rao - II intended to attack Pune which was help by the British, on their way, they were met by 834 – strong company force that was on its way to reinforce the British troops in Pune. Out of these 834 soldiers, 500 belonged to the Dalit – Mahar community. The battle attained a legendary stature for Dalits, who consider the win as a victory of the Mahars against the injustices perpetuated by the Peshwas.
AFTER MATH OF THE INCIDENT OF 2018 JANUARY
Ø 2 January 2018 – FIR was filed against Sambhaji Bhide and Milind Ekbote for inestigationg violence on Dalits.
Ø 3 JANUARY 2018 Maharashtra bandh was called by Prakash Ambedkar.
Ø Protests were staged all over the state of Maharashtra. In Mumbai, suburban trains were affected due to which Dabbawalas suspended their services.
Ø February – The Hon`ble Supreme Court criticised the State govt. And probe agencies for the slow progress in their probe against Milind Ekbote, questioning the agencies` claims that he was allegedly “untraceable”. Chief minister, Devendra Fadnavis said in the state assembly that the police had raided all hotels and lodges in Pune and Kolhapur in search of Ekbote, conducted combing operations, detained his followers and examined more than 100 call records but failed to locate him.
Ø 14 March 2018 - The District Rural Police of Pune arrested Milind Ekbote. The Supreme Court cancelled his interim bail plea after he did not cooperate with the probe agencies, refusing to hand over his mobile phone and despite five summons for interrogation.
Ø 22 April 2018 - A nineteen-year-old Dalit witness, Puja Sakat, whose house was burnt in the violence, was found dead in a well. Her family alleged that she was under intense pressure to withdraw her statement. Her brother, Jaideep, also a witness, had been arrested by Pune Rural Police on charges of attempt to murder.
Investigation by the Police in the case led to arrest of many individuals, such as that of Rona Wilson in June 2018 under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. In August 2018 five activists, including Varavara Rao, Arun Ferreira, Sudha Bharadwaj and Gautam Navlakha, were picked up in simultaneous raids across the country, the police alleged that the activists had ties to Maoists, apart from links to the Bhima Koregaon incident
Elgaar Parishad Case: Arrest and Imprisonment (2018)
On 28 August 2018, Rao was arrested in his home in Hyderabad for his alleged involvement in the Bhima-Koregaon violence that occurred on 1 January 2018. A First Information Report filed concerning that event alleged that on the 200th anniversary of the battle of Bhima-Koregaon, a program called the Elgaar Parishad had been organized in which leftist groups and Naxalites had participated. The police alleged that the speeches made at this event, including those by Rao and others, were responsible for inciting violence that occurred the next day. Some reports also suggest that there was an alleged plot to assassinate Prime Minister Narendra Modi discussed at this event. These appear to be based a letter obtained by the police which refer to a person only identified as “R”. Rao has denied any involvement in the alleged plot. Rao and others currently face charges under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, and repeated attempts to bail Rao out, on grounds of his failing health, have not succeeded.
Covid-19 and NHRC Intervention
During Rao`s detention in Taloja Jail in Maharashtra, he was hospitalised and admitted to J.J. Hospital in Mumbai. Following this, a special court ordered a report on his health while detained. In June 2020, Rao applied again for bail, on the grounds that he was highly vulnerable to COVID - 19, and following a government recommendation that elderly inmates and those with co-morbidities should be released from jail in light of the COVID - 19 pandemic, but were unsuccessful. His application for bail was supported by fourteen Members of Parliament, who wrote a letter to Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, raising concerns about his health as well as jail conditions during the COVID - 19 pandemic in India. It was also supported by two former Chief Election Commissioners of India, who raised doubts about the alleged conspiracy case, and called on the National Investigation Agency to share information with the Mumbai Police regarding the case.
On 16th July, Rao was once again admitted to J.J. Hospital in Mumbai, where he tested positive for COVID - 19. Following reports that Rao had been injured again while in the care of the hospital, resulting in a head injury, the National Human Rights Commission ordered that he be moved to a private facility for medical treatment. The National Investigation Agency opposed Rao`s plea for bail in court, arguing that he was trying to “take undue advantage” of the Covid-19 pandemic, although the hospital confirmed that Rao had tested positive for Covid-19 and was undergoing treatment