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  • 03 January, 2023

  • 5 Min Read

Bhima-Koregaon Battle

Bhima-Koregaon Battle

Recently, the Battle of Koregaon Bhima celebrated its 205th anniversary.

What was the Battle of Bhima Koregaon?

  • On January 1, 1818, 800 British East India Company soldiers and 800 Maratha warriors fought in the Battle of Koregaon in the village of Koregaon, Maharashtra.
  • The Peshwa army were effectively repelled by the East India Company soldiers, who also stopped them from entering Pune.
  • Baji Rao II withdrew his troops from Koregaon and abandoned his plans to attack Pune after a 12-hour battle in which 600 men were lost and he feared reinforcements from Pune.

What Motivated the Battle's Conduct?

  • By the end of the 18th century, the Peshwas had established themselves as the Deccan rulers.
  • By 1802, the Maratha rulers of the Deccan, including the Peshwas of Pune, the Scindias of Gwalior, the Holkars of Indore, the Gaekwads of Baroda, and the Bhonsles of Nagpur, had signed treaties with the British East India Company.
  • These past kings gave up many of their lordship, revenue, and other privileges as a result of the treaties.
  • The last of the reticent Maratha leaders, Baji Rao II, the Peshwa leader, was overthrown by the British at the Battle of Khadki in November 1817 and fled to Satara.
  • At the end of December 1817, Baji Rao, who had been cornered after being followed by British Colonel Smith for two months, directed his attention and his 30,000-man army toward Pune.

About the Mahars:

  • Mahars were historically regarded as being untouchables.
  • However, because of the nature of their jobs—which frequently involved military or administrative duties—they frequently interacted with upper castes.
  • In the 17th century, Maratha King Shivaji enlisted some Mahars into the Maratha army.
  • The Mahar men frequently worked as soldiers or guards.
  • The Mahar community also fought alongside Peshwa armies in various wars, including the third battle of Panipat.
  • However, after Baji Rao II allegedly insulted the group by turning down their offer to join and serve in his army, ties between the Mahars and Peshwas soured.

Why Is the Fight for Dalit Rights Important?

  • Mahars were regarded as untouchables in the 19th century, while Peshwas were high-caste Brahmins.
  • Mahars were notoriously persecuted by the Peshwas.
  • Mahar Dalits experienced a number of injustices during the Peshwa era.
  • For the Dalits, who had long suffered marginalisation and oppression, this triumph was momentous.
  • The names of 49 troops are inscribed on a 60-foot commemorative obelisk that was built at the scene of the battle in memory of the Bombay Native Infantry's fallen soldiers.
  • There were 22 names on the list that belonged to members of the Mahar community.
  • The obelisk was constructed by the British in 1818, but it wasn't displayed on the Mahar Regiment's crest until 1947.
  • On January 1, 1927, the 109th anniversary of the fight, Dr. BR Ambedkar paid a visit to the location.

Recent Case of Bhima Koregaon:

  • It began on January 1st, 2018.
  • There were deadly fights between Dalit and Maratha groups during the celebrations.

Why is there currently violence in Bhima Koregaon?

  • Right-wing organizations such as the Akhil Bhartiya Brahman Mahasabha, Hindu Aghadi, and Rashtriya Ekatmata Rashtra Abhiyan opposed the event as anti-national and casteist before the commemoration of the battle's 200th-anniversary event took place on January 1.
  • The anniversary serves as a rallying cry for all Indians to resist forces that incite caste-based violence and hatred.
  • There were members of every caste in the British army, including Mahar, Maratha, and even Brahmins.
  • People from various castes, including Maratha and Mahar, served in the Peshwa army as well.

Source: The Indian Express

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