Dalits welcome Uddhav’s move to review Bhima-Koregaon cases
The Dalit community seems to be happy with chief minister (CM) Uddhav Thackeray’s decision to review cases filed against protesters in the Bhima-Koregaon violence of 2018.
The general sentiment among thousands of Dalits who converged at Chaityabhoomi, the memorial of Dr BR Ambedkar, on Friday, to pay their tributes on his 63rd death anniversary, was that they were happy that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) did not come back to power.
Bhimrao Waghmare, 53, who has been visiting Chaityabhoomi for the past 35 years on this day, said it was “good” that the BJP did not return to power. “The BJP government foisted false cases on innocent Dalits, while the real culprits were not touched. It was good that Thackeray decided to review the cases, though we are aware that even he would not touch the real culprits,” he said, adding, “Even the Indu Mills memorial of Babasaheb was neglected by the previous [BJP] regime.”
However, even as the community welcomed Thackeray’s decision, most of them said it was too early to comment on his rule, but that they hoped they would not be discriminated against and that he would address the issues faced by them.
The Devendra Fadnavis-led government faced a lot of flak in the aftermath of the attack on Dalits in Bhima-Koregaon in January 2018. The government was also criticised by the Dalit community for not taking action against the masterminds of the attack. Santosh Dupare, a resident of Navi Mumbai, who was present at Chaityabhoomi on Friday, said the animosity between castes rose in the past five years.
Following the Bhima-Koregaon violence, the Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA), led by Prakash Ambedkar, the grandson of Ambedkar, shot into prominence. Though the VBA did not make a huge mark in the elections, it helped split Congress-NCP combine’s votes, ensuring victory for the BJP in many constituencies. However, some Dalits insisted that Prakash Ambedkar was not to be blamed for the same. “VBA raised our issues and gave us the kind of identity we longed for,” said Kalyan-based Pawan Kamble. Madhukar Bhosale, 65, said talks of Prakash Ambedkar indirectly helping the BJP was just a rumour. “How come the BJP did not come to power if the VBA really helped them? VBA has its own vote bank,” said Bhosale.