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Bhima-Koregaon clash and call for Mumbai bandh result in furore on Twitter

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The state of Maharashtra has been seething under a situation of great turmoil, starting the new year. A mob, comprising largely the Maratha community, clashed with lakhs of Dalits, who gathered in the city to attend an event commemorating the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Bhima on January 1, following which one person was killed and several injured. Following this, the Mumbai Police detained over a 100 people at different locations in the city after Dalit groups sought action against those who were involved in the violence in Pune the day before. A quick trawl across the Internet, especially Twitter, showed people taking sides — while some blamed the government for not taking proper action, some called out the “casteist mentality” of the society, and others blamed the Dalit community for the riots.

Meanwhile, Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh (BBM) leader Prakash Ambedkar said on January 2 (Tuesday), “The judicial inquiry ordered by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis is not acceptable to us. The government should request to the chief justice of Bombay High Court to appoint sitting judge to probe this incident. The judge should have the powers to collect the evidence and to punish the culprits.” He also demanded that the inquiry be conducted by a non-Dalit judge.

Netizens raised concerns over how there was not enough noise made when 14 people were killed in the Kamala Mills fire tragedy. Amidst ruing over how this was a bad start to 2018, many even asked the government to “wake up”.

But most Internet posts were about people, seemingly concerned over travelling to their destination, asking what routes will be safer to opt for. Many reminded the protesters that there are better ways to resolve matters than vandalising and “causing chaos”.

Twitter users hoped for the day when politics based on division of people based on caste, religion, sex and other factors would end.

Many supported the Dalits’ cause and deemed those opposing them as “casteist hypocrites”.  “We were all humans until race disconnected us,  religion separated us,  caste divided us and wealth classified us,” wrote a Twitter user.

According to a report by The Indian Express, the main event at the Jay-stambh (victory memorial) at Bhima Koregaon was peaceful except for the clashes that were reported from the neighbouring villages. The police said that more than 5 lakh people had assembled to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Bhima battle in which Peshawas were defeated by British forces. They march to the Jaystambh on January 1 each year and there have been no records of any violence previously.

Click here to know more and in detail about the Bhima Koregaon violence and developments.

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