From Rohith Vemula to Bhima-Koregaon: The Dawn of Dalit Identity

Politics

From Rohith Vemula to Bhima-Koregaon: The Dawn of Dalit Identity

Illustration: Palak Bansal

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nother day, another Dalit atrocity. This week, the entire state of Maharashtra has come to a halt over clashes between right-wing elements and Dalits — this time over the commemoration of an anniversary. in 1818, the British-led Mahar Regiment defeated the Maratha Confederacy’s forces at the Battle of Bhima-Koregaon. However, according to a report in Mumbai Mirror, tensions were already simmering in the area since December 29, over the desecration of the samadhi site of Govind Gaikwad, a Dalit Mahar icon. The kettle boiled over on January 1, when thousands of Dalits gathered at the village of Bhima-Koregaon for their annual memorial service, and local Hindutva elements clashed with attendees.

Two days later, the fallout of the clashes is still being felt. The protests have reached the country’s financial capital Mumbai, and brought the city’s daily life to a standstill. As the city witnesses a bandh the likes of which have not been seen since the heyday of Bal Thackeray, here’s a look back at the consolidation of Dalit identity in the Indian political landscape over the last few years.

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