Mumbai: Taking note of the caste riots that broke out in Bhima-Koregaon on January 2 this year, after the 200th commemoration of the Bhima-Koregaon war, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government has decided to observe the 75th foundation day of the Mahar regiment on December 15, with an event at the Gateway of India.
The timing of the event is significant because it will take place a fortnight before the first anniversary of the riots against Dalits at Bhima-Koregaon. The function that is to be held at the Gateway of India on December 15 will be attended by Union Minister for Social Justice Ramdas Athawale, Union Minister of State for Defence Subhash Bhamre and Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. In a statement issued on Wednesday, the minister for social justice, Rajkumar Badole, lauded the Mahar Regiment for the gallantry awards and worldwide peacetime commendations it has won.
Dilip Kamble, minister of state for social justice, said, “The function is being held to honour the bravery of the soldiers at the battlefield. Their descendants will receive a cash reward and a citation.” He asserted that despite last year’s riots, the government has decided it will allow Ambedkarites to visit Bhima-Koregaon to pay homage. However, he disclosed that the Elgar Parishad, had been denied permission to hold a public meeting in Pune. The Elgar Parishad was a public meeting held in Pune on December 31, 2017, a day before the riots broke out.
The government, through the Babasaheb Ambedkar Research and Training Institute (BARTI), has made elaborate arrangements to provide food for those who will visit Bhima-Koregaon, to pay homage. Every year, thousands of followers come to the site and pay their respects at the war memorial erected to mark the victory of the British East India army over the army of the Maratha Peshwa at this spot, on Jan 1,1818.