Report On Koregaon – Bhima Riot on January 1, 2018

Bhima Koregaon Riots – A comprehensive fact-finding and analysis was done by Forum for
Integrated National Security (FINS) on developments at Vadhu, Bhima Koregaon
and Sanaswadi. Information was collected through in-person
interviews, social media reports in print and electronic media, and was
analysed. Approximately, 50 villagers mainly comprising victims, eyewitnesses,
key stakeholders from different communities, Police, members
of Grampanchayat from above mentioned three villages were interviewed
from Jan 1, 2018. A synopsis of the findings is available in the report.
It is evident from the collected information that the root-cause of the riot
is systematic and consistent distortion and falsification of Indian history.
There have been three attempts of provocation for these riots as follows:
Elgar Parishad at Shaniwarwada was the culmination of Prerana March.
Prerana march started on Dec 23, through which people in
Maharashtra were mobilised to end “ New Peshwai”, a word used
to represent the current Government of BJP as casteist and
Brahmanical. Provocative speeches at Shaniwarwada on Dec 31
making statements against Peshwai and to take up caste struggle
on roads was one of the attempts. FIRs have already been filed
against the Organisers and Speakers making provocative
statements. To name a few, Members of alleged Maoists and
Maoist Front Organisations, Popular Front of India, Sambhaji
Brigade were part of the Organising Committee of Elgar Parishad
and Prerana March.
Another attempt was when a board of distorted history was put up
at Vadhu about Sambhaji Maharaj’s last rites on Dec 28 by people
from Pune and some Dalit families from Vadhu and atrocity cases
were filed against villagers on Dec 29, some of whom were not even
present at the venue when the incident happened.
A blue flag entered the sea of saffron flags at Bhima Koregaon on
Jan 1, 2018 provoking response. Out of the above three, the first two attempts resulted in clashes/confrontation and the last attempt led to a conflagration.
Days before the 200th anniversary of the battle, messages were
circulating on social media about the ‘Roll of Honour’ tile on Vijaystambh.
These messages appealed to members of the Dalit community to remove
the ‘Roll of Honour’ tile as “it has nothing to do with the 1818 battle”. The act of putting the tile on ‘Jaystambh’ was “a conspiracy by Brahminical
forces to distort the history of the battle” claimed these messages. A
book — 1 January 1818 Swatantryache Bund (Freedom struggle of 1
January 1818) — written by Professor Vilas Kharat from BAMCEF and
released last year in 2017, claimed that the Roll of Honour tile on the
Jaystambh, which has “names of upper-caste Brahmin soldiers” martyred
in the 1965 and 1971 wars, was an “act of erasing the history of January
1, 1818”. The book even warned of unrest unless the tile is removed. A
few years ago, the ‘Roll of Honour’ tile was put up on the Jaystambh by
the Poona Horse regiment of the Indian Army. It has names of martyrs
who belonged to the regiment, including Param Vir Chakra recipients,
who fought in the 1965 and 1971 wars against Pakistan. The victory in the
Bhima Koregaon battle is the first ‘battle honour’ of the Poona Horse,
which was then a part of the British India Army that defeated Peshwas’
On Dec 28, 2017, when the board of distorted history was put up, the
police Patil immediately informed Shikrapur Police station on phone. Call
details and Whatsapp messages sent to Hav Jagtap on Dec 28 around
0730pm are available as evidence. Had Police acted immediately, further
clashes and atrocity cases on Dec 29 could have been avoided. Police
came to village next day i.e. Dec 29, when there were confrontations
between both Communities i.e. Marathas and Dalits, due to the board.
As per media reports, the organisers of Elgar Parishad and Prerana march,
did not go to Bhima Koregaon giving reasons of law and order situation is
suggestive of the fact that they may be aware of the riot before it
The protest march from Vadhu to Bhima Koregaon was a wrong move by local
people from nearby villages carrying saffron flags and could have been
avoided. There were unknown people as well in this march says villagers.
Local people mentioned that they came to know about plans of
the demolition of Sambhaji Maharaj’s samadhi on Jan 1, 2018, by some fringe
elements and they gathered at Vadhu in the morning to protect the
samadhi. There were rumors on Whatsapp that Sambhaji Bhide, Founder
of Shiv Pratisthan, was to come to Vadhu on Jan 1, 2018 for a sabha at 8
o’clock in the morning. It turned out to be fake. According to the voices
collected, it was a spontaneous march.
Considering the Police deployment at Vadhu following the provocative
incident on Dec 28 and subsequent events, Police could have stopped the
march of people with saffron flags from entering Bhima Koregaon on
Nagar road. Police did not stop the march, which covered a distance of 3
Km before entering Bhima Koregaon.
Milind Ekbote organised a press meeting at Sonai Hotel on Dec 30 which
was cancelled at the last moment and he only distributed press note to
Journalists and left within a few minutes. His press note mentions that
‘Celebrating Victory of British over Peshwas is against Dr Ambedkar’s
thoughts and teachings. Dr Ambedkar never supported any Anti-India
activity. It also stated that Government supporting such celebrations is
not right as it is insulting to the soldiers who fight for India’s victory.’
Atrocity case was filed against him.
One Aadhar card with the name of Kadir Khan S/O Sajid Khan with
an address of Pitampura, Saraswati Vihar was found on Jan 1, 2018, in the
Sambhaji Maharaj Samadhi premises. The Aadhar card address was fake
when Police checked it. There was no one with the name Kadir Khan at
that location. There is a need for the detailed investigation into this.
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