Pune: The Koregaon-Bhima Enquiry Commission (EC) constituted by the State government on May 12 to inquire into the violence that took place on January 1 and 2 this year, has received up to 177 affidavits from victims and witnesses of the violence. This is a significant development as there were reports recently that the commission didn’t receive a single affidavit by June 1.
Thousands thronged the village of Koregaon-Bhima on January 1 to celebrate 200 years of the historic battle at Koregaon-Bhima, in which a disciplined small Mahar regiment of the British army had defeated the Peshwa army. Upper caste villagers of Koregaon-Bhima, who usually welcome visitors, had decided to oppose these celebrations and kept their shops and services closed. The Dalit families defying the villagers faced ire.
The Athawale family of Sanaswadi village near Koregaon-Bhima saw their house and workshop burnt as they had distributed food and water to the visitors. The Sakat family also faced a similar ire, also resulting in the suspicious death of their 19-year-old daughter Pooja.
These and many other such incidents have been narrated in the affidavits submitted to the inquiry commission.
Many affidavits have poured in from upper caste villagers, too. These affidavits are mostly regarding retaliatory stone pelting by Ambedkarite groups and property damage. The commission received a number of affidavits at its Pune centre. Out of the 177 affidavits, only 8 were submitted at the Mumbai centre of the commission.
Rahul Dambale of the Republican Yuva Morcha, said, “After we saw that there was confusion regarding the filing of affidavits, we decided to increase awareness. With the help of other organisations, we started making appeals and soon had filed 40 affidavits through our medium,”
Dambale said, “The government has taken some positive steps and the commission, too, has got an extension up to July 16. The government has also assured us that cases against Ambedkarite youths will be taken back soon.”