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Maharashtra caste violence: All you need to know about Bhima Koregaon Battle and why Dalits celebrate British victory over Peshwas

Dalit thinkers view the battle as a victory of oppressed classes over the upper-caste establishment. Here's why.

Written by: India TV News Desk, New Delhi [ Updated: January 03, 2018 11:52 IST ]
Clashes erupted when Dalit groups reached Pune to mark
Image Source : PTI Clashes erupted when Dalit groups reached Pune to mark 200th anniversary of the battle

The Battle of Bhima Koregaon was fought on January 1, 1818. The army of British East India Company, which had a large contingent of Dalit Mahars, had defeated the Peshwa faction of the Maratha Confederacy.

Some Dalit leaders and thinkers view it as a victory of oppressed classes over the upper-caste establishment of those times.

The 28,000-strong Marathas, led by Peshwa Baji Rao II intended to attack Pune. On their way, they were met by an 800-strong Company force that was on its way to reinforce the British troops in Pune. 

The Peshwa dispatched around 2,000 soldiers to attack the Company force stationed in Koregaon. Led by Captain Francis Staunton, the Company troops defended their position for nearly 12 hours. The Marathas ultimately withdrew, fearing the arrival of a larger British force led by General Joseph Smith.

The Company troops of Indian origin included predominantly Mahar Dalit soldiers belonging to the Bombay Native Infantry, and therefore Dalit activists regard the battle as a heroic episode in Dalit history.

India Tv - Bhima Koregaon victory pillar in Pune

Bhima Koregaon victory pillar in Pune

Every year the community travels to Koregaon Bhima to celebrate the victory over Peshwas. Being the 200th anniversary this year, a larger crowd came down for celebrations on Monday.

However, some right-wing groups in Pune had expressed opposition to celebration of the `British' victory. The protests soon turned violence, including stone-pelting and vandalism.  ​Follow live updates on Monday's Bhima-Koregaon clashes

Twenty-eight-year-old Rahul Fatangale died in the violence and three were injured, according to the police. Prvate and public vehicles were torched. The violence also affected traffic on the Pune expessway and rail line crossing through the region. 

The police said that the situation was under control. 

Maharashtra caste violence: One killed in clashes at Bhima Koregaon battle anniversary event in Pune

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