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Smashed glasses, Fractured minds!

Author: Ramesh Patange
Publication: Vivek
Date: January 4, 2018
URL:    http://www.evivek.com/Encyc/2018/1/4/Bhima-Koregaon-Violence-

The Bhima Koregaon episode triggered violence. Riots broke out all over the state and a call was given for a Maharashtra Bandh. In this scenario, veteran writer Ramesh Patange poses some forthright questions to Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh (BBM) leader Prakash Ambedkar who called for the strike.  

‘Jai Bhim’ Prakash Amebedkar!

Actually, I am not accustomed to say ‘Jai Bhim’; I am more comfortable with ‘Namaskar’! But if I say ‘Namaskar’, you would not accept it. Thus, I voiced ‘Jai Bhim’. For you ‘Namaskar’ might be a greeting styled by Brahmani culture. I receive calls from the volunteers of Ambedkar movement occasionally in a year. I greet them by saying ‘Namaskar’ and the one who rings up keeps on uttering ‘Jai Bhim’ and he does not begin the conversation till I say ‘Jai Bhim’. I don’t have any problem in uttering ‘Jai Bhim’. I neither have any ideological problem nor any emotional barrier to salute the great son of Mother India. …
  ...
Prakashji, you gave a call for a Maharashtra Bandh on January 3 on the issue of Bhima Koregaon and withdrew the state-wide strike after ten hours. ‘Ten Days That Shook the World’ by John Reed is a famous book on Russian Revolution. A book should be written on your ten -hour bandh also. It can be titled ‘Ten Hours that fractured and fragmented Maharashtra.’

One needs to have some issue or the other to call for a strike. You chose the issue of Bhima Koregaon. There were some incidents of stone pelting at people gathered for ‘Shauryadin’. Some vehicles were torched. It is a despicable incident indeed. No one could be granted permission to take law in one’s hands. The guilty should be punished. There is no second thought about that. There were incidents of stone pelting at people gathered at Koregaon. When democracy has given you a right to condemn the incident in a lawful way, what was the need to give a call for Maharashtra Bandh?

It is impossible that the people who were pounded coarsely due to ‘declared’ and ‘unstated’ strike on January 3 would be friends with you in near future. There were attempts to portray the Koregaon conflict as a confrontation between Dalit and Marathas. That would destroy the social balance of Maharashtra. Nothing else could be expected when one resorts to the politics of caste.

It is depressing that ‘Ambedkarians’ have been immensely separated from the rest of society for the first time. You can say that ‘we do not care and require the backing from the rest of the population. We are able; we have the protection of constitution. We have the protection of law. Nobody can harm us’. Such language is good for self- respect but the tone is extremely harmful for the social brotherhood and social harmony in India.

Babasaheb Ambedkar gave prime importance to brotherhood in his social life.  “Fraternity is humanity and that is the second name to Dharma,” he maintained.  While speaking on brotherhood in the constituent assembly he said, “What does fraternity mean? Fraternity means a sense of common brotherhood of all Indians – of Indians being one people. It is the principle which gives unity and solidarity to social life. It is a difficult thing to achieve.”
 
How difficult it is, to create a feeling of universal brotherhood in a society that is divided in different castes, I have realized from my work for Samarasata (Social Harmony) for last 30 years. I know the strike on January 2 and 3 has cracked and shattered a sense of brotherhood and harmony. While watching the heap of broken glasses on roads, I could visualize the heart-renting picture of fractured and fragmented minds and that reminded me a story from Panchatantra.

A cobra resided in a farm. A farmer religiously offered him milk every day and the cobra gave him a gold coin as a blessing.  After some time, the farmer needed to visit another village. He instructed his son to offer milk to the cobra every day. Following his instructions, the farmer’s son offered milk to the cobra on the first day and received a gold coin in return. He thought, ‘‘If the cobra gives a gold coin every day, there must be lots of gold coins inside the ground. I can take out all the gold coins if I kill the cobra.’’
 
The next morning, he offered milk to the cobra and attacked him. The cobra fought back angrily, and bit the farmer's son. He died from the poison. When the farmer returned, he heard what had happened and aggrieved for the turn of events. The farmer offered milk to the cobra and started praying. The cobra said, “Our friendship cannot last any longer now. The sight of me would always remind you of a burning funeral pyre of your son and while looking at you I would be constantly reminded of my injured hood. Shattered love cannot be restored with a display of affection. Thus, it is better to have our own ways.”
 
Prakashji you played your political game! You tried to enhance the drama by hurling abuses at Fadnavis, Modi and Bhagwat. It had the added flavour of hatred for Brahmins also. But what did you achieve? You should search the answers.

Ramesh Patange

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