Today’s conflict has little or nothing to do with the British, it’s between the Brahmin Peshwas and Mahars. The present CM of Maharashtra is a Brahmin.
The Maharashtra bandh today is the result of groups trying to settle a 200-year old score.
In the battle between the British and the Peshwas, the Mahars (or the Dalit community) helped the British defeat the Peshwas.
However, even before this, the Peshwas and Sambhaji (Shivaji’s descendent) had a number of conflicts. The Mahars had supported Sambhaji, the Maratha king. Later when Sambhaji died, it was the Mahars who performed the funeral.
Historians say that when the Peshwas were in power, they killed around 61 Mahars for supporting Sambhaji.
Today’s conflict has little or nothing to do with the British, it’s between the Brahmin Peshwas and Mahars. The community has held a grudge against the Mahars since then.
The RSS is predominantly a Brahminical organisation. Its founder was from the same Marathi-Brahmin community. The present Chief Minister of Maharashtra is a Brahmin.
Those who have perpetrated the violence on the Dalits are from the Sangh Parivar umbrella. There are hundreds of organisations working to propagate their ideology. Nobody knows where they are registered. This is how the RSS functions all over India. It is akin to the way other large companies function — you can’t identify the many shell companies floated by them; similarly you can’t identify and prove RSS-affiliated groups either.
In Maharashtra, over two hundred such organisations are working. When they are caught doing something wrong, instigating violence or riots, the small groups (or shell companies) are blamed.
One can’t say that Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has “failed” to maintain law and order. It has appeared in some newspapers that the police didn’t respond promptly when the incident began. They have been called silent spectators. That had to be on the instruction of the Maharashtra government.
Koregaon is a manifestation of the politics of keeping Dalits in their place.
Sanjay Nirupam is the president of the Mumbai unit of the Congress.