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India's 'Untouchables' Celebrate 202nd Anniversary of Revolt Against Upper Caste Domination

© AP Photo / Ajit SolankiA policeman keeps vigil as hundreds of members of India's low-caste Dalit community gather for a rally to protest against the attack on their community members in Ahmadabad, India, Sunday, July 31, 2016.
A policeman keeps vigil as hundreds of members of India's low-caste Dalit community gather for a rally to protest against the attack on their community members in Ahmadabad, India, Sunday, July 31, 2016. - Sputnik International
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New Delhi (Sputnik): The war between the last Maratha emperor, Peshwa Bajirao II, and the East India Company on 1 January 1818 was considered a revolt against social hierarchy – the lowest and socially deprived against the highest in the caste ladder.

One of the last battles of the Third Anglo-Maratha War was fought by around 500 Mahar (untouchable) warriors as part of the British Army against 28,000 princely Maratha troops.

Traditionally called untouchables and now Dalits, or the socially deprived class, they celebrated the 202nd anniversary of the victory in the Battle of Koregaon. People in large numbers gathered at Bhima Koregaon village in the western Indian state of Maharashtra on Wednesday to commemorate the victory in the battle.

Police made the necessary security arrangements near Jaystambh (war memorial) in the western Pune district for the gathering, which was expected to number in the tens of thousands.

Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar, who headed a panel to write the Indian Constitution after the country won freedom from British colonial rule, visited the Jaystambh in 1927. Since Dr Ambedkar is now considered an icon of the socially deprived, the site has become crucial for his followers.

The deputy chief of the western state of Mahrashtra, Ajit Pawar, and Prakash Ambedkar, the grandson of Dr Ambedkar and who now heads a political outfit of the followers of his grandfather, paid tribute at the war memorial on Wednesday.

​Followers of Dr Ambedkar, known as Ambedkarites, marked the day on social media, sharing their views on the relevance of the day.

Activist and senior journalist Dilip Mandal wrote: “The Mahars thought it as an opportunity for social revolution - nothing to lose but self-respect, equality and prestige to gain. From this point of view it should be considered a unique war”.

​An Ambedkarite outfit has written to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to declare the Jaystambh commemorating the 1818 battle of Bhima-Koregaon a national memorial.

In 2018, violence erupted during the 200th anniversary celebration, when people with saffron flags entered the crowd. One person died and many others sustained injuries during the violence.

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