05 January 2018

Pin It

Facts History of battle of Bhima Koregaon 1818 War of Koregaon

Facts History of battle of Bhima Koregaon 1818 War of Koregaon

On January 1, 2018, clashes erupted between right-wing Hindu groups and Dalit groups during the commemoration of this battle. This led to further violent protests and rioting in Mumbai, Pune and other parts of Maharashtra for two days

Two centuries ago, on January 1, 1818, a few hundred Mahar soldiers fighting as part of the British Indian army defeated over 20,000 Peshwa soldiers in the battle of Bhima Koregaon near Pune in Maharashtra. To commemorate this victory, thousands of
Dalits, Muslims, Christians and Bahujans will gather at Shaniwar Wada on December 31, and then march toward Bhima Koregaon, 40 km from Pune

Being the 200th anniversary, that gathering in Bhima Koregaon this year was much larger than usual. Many Dalit and Bahujan groups collectively organised a big public conference in the name of Elgar Parishad at Shaniwar Wada, which was the seat of the Peshwas until 1818. The agenda of this conference was evidently against Hindutva politics which was powerfully manifested by projecting Hindutva politics as the neo-peshwai (new Peshwas). Jignesh Mevani and Prakash Ambedkar were invited.

The new political articulation of the Dalits by equating Hindutva with the Peshwai has annoyed the right-wing forces.

The usually peaceful celebrations at the Bhima Koregaon village every year to commemorate the battle of 1818, took an unusually violent turn on January 1, 2018.

The violence in Pune on Monday resulted in the death of one and vandalizing of several vehicles

The Mahars were considered untouchable in the caste-based society. The Peshwas, who were high-caste Brahmins, were notorious for their mistreatment and persecution of the untouchables

“Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar visited the war memorial built at Koregaon on the banks of Bhima river on January 1, 1918, and since then, Dalits and all other Bahujans have started to celebrate this day. The Mahars fought with the British against the Peshwas
but that was not an anti-national act. The Peshwas were the oppressors of the lowers castes like Dalits. Despite Dalits serving and wining battles for the Peshwas earlier, they had to sleep and eat differently – away from other soldiers. Common Dalits had to
tie a broom behind them when they entered the city limits so that the broom would clean the area that had allegedly been polluted due to them having walked there. However, the British offered equality to the Dalits to a great extent. Unlike the Peshwas,
they offered the Dalits jobs with good salaries and education. Dalits were exploited so badly by the Peshwas that they felt that the British were better than them and hence they fought for the British.” “So the victory and battle is significant for Dalits or all Bahujans as that was the victory over caste-based oppression against the Peshwa.

The Peshwas were notorious for their persecution of Mahars. Mahar Dalits faced several injustices under the Peshwa rule

A 60-foot-commemorative obelisk, to honour the fallen soldiers of the Bombay Native Infantry, was erected at the battle site and inscribed with the names of 49 soldiers. Twenty-two of the names mentioned in the list belonged to people from the Mahar community.

While it was built by the British in 1818, the obelisk was carried on the Mahar Regiment's crest till as late as 1947.

On 1 January 1927, Babasaheb Ambedkar visited the memorial obelisk erected on the spot which bears the names of the dead including nearly two dozen Mahar soldiers. This is what he said: "Who were these people who joined the army of the East India Company and helped the British to conquer India? ...the people who joined the Army of the East India Company were the Untouchables of India. The men who fought with Clive in the battle of Plassey were the Dusads, and the Dusads are Untouchables.

Dr B R Ambedkar visited the Jaystambh repeatedly, and said in a speech in Sinnar in 1941 that the Mahars had defeated the Peshwas at Koregaon.

The battle is considered by many prominent Dalit thinkers, to be a significant point in Dalit history as a triumph for the community which had faced oppression under Peshwa rule

The Peshwas had established themselves as overlords of the Deccan till the end of the 18th century.

by 1802, the British East India Company had entered into treaties with Maratha rulers of the Deccan, which included the Peshwas of Pune, the Scindias of Gwalior, the Holkars of Indore, the Gaekwads of Baroda, and the Bhonsles of Nagpur.

Under the treaties, these former rulers ceded a large number of their rights of lordship, revenue, and other privileges.

Peshwa leader Baji Rao II – who was the last of the reluctant Maratha leaders – was defeated by the British in the Battle of Khadki in November 1817 and had escaped to Satara.

Baji Rao, cornered after being pursued by British Colonel Smith for two months, turned his focus and his 30,000-strong army to Pune at the end of December 1817.

Why Battle is called as Bhima Koregaon battle?
The battle, war took place at Koregaon on the banks of Bhima river, hence the name Bhima Koregaon battle

One of the earliest accounts of the battle was published in 1885 in the three-volume The Poona District Gazetteer, edited by James M Campbell, ICS, as part of the series of Gazetteers of the Bombay Presidency. This is what the Gazette recorded.

The Battle of Koregaon took place on 1 January 1818 in the village of Koregaon, (population 960) 16 miles northeast of Pune Maharashtra, between troops of Maratha ruler Baji Rao Peshwa II and 800 troops of the British East India Company
faced 30,000 Marathas

Six months earlier, on June 13, 1817, Peshwa Bajirao II had been forced to cede large swathes of territory to the Company, officially ending the Maratha Confederacy.

In November, the Peshwa’s army revolted against the British Resident at Pune, but was defeated in the Battle of Khadki. Pune was placed under Colonel Charles Barton Burr. At the end of December, Burr received intelligence that Bajirao intended to attack Poona, and requested help. The second battalion of the first regiment Bombay Native Infantry of 500 rank and file under Captain Francis Staunton, accompanied by 300 irregular horse and two six-pounder guns manned by 24 European Madras artillerymen, left Sirur for Poona at 8 pm on December 31, 1817. After marching 25 miles, about 10 the following morning, they came across the Bhima river the Peshwa’s army of 25,000 Maratha horse. The Gazette does not mention the caste of Indian soldiers in Staunton’s army, but later accounts say a sizeable number were Mahars.

the marathas recalled a body of 5,000 infantry that had proceeded some distance ahead, the Gazette records. Three parties of 600 each — Arabs, Gosavis and regular infantry — supported by two guns, then besieged the British troops. Cut off from water and food, and after losing one of their artillery guns, some British troops were keen to surrender. However, the six-foot, seven-inch Lieutenant Pattinson led a counterattack to take back the artillery gun from the Peshwa’s Arab soldiers. Fierce fighting followed and, “as night fell”, the Gazette records, “the attack lightened and they (the British) got water. By 9 the firing ceased and the Marathas left”. Of the 834 British troops, 275 were killed, wounded, or missing.

The Marathas lost between 500 and 600 killed and wounded. Subsequently, as Maratha strongholds started falling, Bajirao II went on the run, finally surrendering in 1823. The British kept him in Bithur until his death in 1851. His successor, Nanasaheb Peshwa, was the last of the titular heads of the Peshwai system.

In 1818, the first regiment of the second battalion of the British empire consisted of the Bombay Native Infantry with 500 soldiers, the 17 Poona Horse and the Madras Cannon. The Bombay Native Infantry had 500 soldiers who were mostly Mahar (Scheduled
Castes), Maratha and Christians and other Bahujans. And 17 Poona Horse had 250 soldiers on horse and there were 25 soldiers with the Madras Cannon.”

“They, under the leadership of Strontan, a British Army officer, fought against the Peshwas, who were heading the Maratha empire, having over 20,000 horsemen and 8,000 soldiers. By 9 pm on January 1 on that year, these 600 soldiers of the British Army killed 600 soldiers of the Peshwa forces. The remaining Peshwa soldiers then ran away. Over 200 soldiers from the British side including 22 Mahar, 16 Maratha, eight Rajput and two Muslims and two Christians also died.”

Mountstuart Elphinstone, who visited Koregaon two days later on 3 January 1818, wrote that the houses had been burned and the streets were filled with dead bodies of horses and men. There were around 50 dead bodies lying in the village, most of them of the Peshwa's Arab soldiers. There were six dead bodies outside the village. In addition, there were shallow graves of 50 native sepoys, 11 European soldiers and the 2 deceased officers belonging to the Company forces.

General Smith arrived in Koregaon on 3 January, but by this time, the Peshwa had already left the area. A company force led by General Pritzler pursued Peshwa, who tried to escape to Mysore. Meanwhile, General Smith captured Satara, the capital of Pratap Singh. Smith intercepted Peshwa in a battle on 19 February 1818 at Ashtoon (or Ashta); Bapuji Gokhale was killed in this action. The Peshwa then fled to Khandesh, while his jagirdars accepted the Company's suzerainty. A dejected Peshwa then met with John Malcolm on 2 June 1818, and surrendered his royal claims in exchange for a pension and a residence in Bithoor. Trimbakji Dengle was captured near Nashik and imprisoned at the Chunar Fort.

General Thomas Hislop called the battle "one of the most heroic and brilliant achievements ever recorded on the annals of the army”. According to M.S. Naravane, "this gallant defense by a small number of Company's troops against an overwhelming Maratha force is rightly considered as one of the most glorious example of valour and fortitude in the annals of the Company's forces.

To commemorate its fallen soldiers, the Company commissioned a "victory pillar" (an obelisk) in Koregaon. The inscription of the pillar declares that Captain Staunton's force "accomplished one of the proudest triumphs of the British Army in the East

Photo - Bhima Koregaon Victory Pillar

Reality views by sm –

Friday, January 05, 2018

Tags – Facts History War Battle Maratha Peshwa Mahar Bhima Koregaon Victory