Why is Maharashtra on the boil?

first_imgWhat happened?On January 1, members of the Dalit community on their way to Bhima-Koregaon, a village near Pune, were attacked, allegedly by Hindutva forces. In the violence, a young man was killed. Protests erupted, and by January 2, they spread throughout Maharashtra. Prakash Ambedkar, head of the Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh party and a grandson of Babasaheb Ambedkar, called a State-wide bandh on January 3.Why is Koregaon-Bhima important?The Koregaon Ranstambh (victory pillar) is a memorial for British East India Company soldiers killed in a battle on January 1, 1818, in which a small group of infantrymen — about 500 of them Mahars (a Scheduled Caste community) — held off a numerically superior force from the army of Peshwa Bajirao II. The Mahars fought alongside the British, some accounts say, because the Peshwa had scorned their offer to join his army.That battle has not found a place in public memories of that time. Dalit activists put this down to a Brahmanic hold on the telling of Indian history. After Dr. Ambedkar visited the site on January 1, 1927, it became a place of pilgrimage for Dalits, an assertion of pride. In recent years, attendance has been in the lakhs, with Dalits coming from all over India. This year, the bicentenary, saw an especially large influx.What triggered the violence?Sambhaji, Shivaji’s son and successor, was captured by the Mughals; according to legend, he was tortured and his mutilated corpse thrown into the Bhima river. Govind Mahar, a Dalit, gathered the dismembered parts of his body and performed the last rites; later, Mahars of the village erected a memorial to Sambhaji. Govind Mahar’s tomb stands near Sambhaji’s in Vadhu-Budruk village, near Bhima-Koregaon.On December 29, a board came up in Vadhu-Budruk hailing Govind Mahar, which, locals say, irked the Marathas in the village, who believe that their ancestors performed Sambhaji’s last rites. Mahar’s tomb was vandalised. On January 1, a mob of 1,500 gathered and, armed with stones, bottles and sticks, attacked buses on their way to Bhima-Koregaon; they threw stones and torched more than 10 vehicles. The violence continued for over four hours. The police remained spectators, and the administration seemed unprepared for the unrest, though it knew of the assembly of a large number of youths at Vadhu-Budruk.Who instigated the violence?News reports say Manohar (a.k.a. Sambhaji) Bhide of Shiv Pratisthan and Milind Ekbote of Hindu Ekta Aghadi instigated the violence. Mr. Bhide, whose stronghold is Sangli district, has close ties with the RSS. He claims to travel across the State, lecturing the youth on Shivaji and his work. He has had cases filed against him for inciting protests against the film Jodha-Akbar, and is believed to have been involved in the Sangli-Miraj riots. Mr. Ekbote is a former BJP municipal corporator in Pune. After the party denied him nomination, he formed his own outfit, Hindu Ekta Aghadi. He, too, has been charged in the past with fanning communal tensions. Cases have been filed against both under the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.What happened during the bandh?On January 2, Dalit organisations took to the streets in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region, Nagpur, Pune and many other districts, blocking roads and trains and allegedly forcing closure of commercial establishments.On January 3, in Mumbai, local trains and Mumbai Metro suspended a number of services; vehicular traffic, too, came to a halt, and many schools, colleges and offices remained shut. Similar protests brought life to a stop in every district. Violence erupted in Mumbai, Aurangabad, and Kolhapur, among other places. The bandh was arguably the biggest since 1997, when Dalit organisations protested against police firing at Ramabai Ambedkar Nagar, Ghatkopar. This bandh served as a potent reminder of Dalit strength and brought Mr. Ambedkar back into the reckoning as a political force and voice of Dalit aspirations.last_img read more

No room for SAI sports medicine centre in Delhi

first_imgThe Sports Authority of India’s sports medicine centre at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium has not been set up again after the venue was demolished in 2008.Initially set up in 1986, the sports medicine centre was a big help for thousands of Indian athletes who were either part of the SAI training programmes or were taking part in national camps in the Capital and needed medical cover.Once the stadium was broken down for renovation in 2008, the sports medicine centre went into rubble. And now, two months after the Commonwealth Games (CWG) ended, no space has been allotted for the centre to be set up again.When Mail Today contacted SAI sports medicine expert PSM Chandran, he said: “I have no idea when the centre will come up again. Whatever equipment we had then is now not there.”As it is, the equipment had outlived its utility, having been used for over two decades. I am hopeful the authorities will wake up and re- establish the centre as national camps will again be held in the Capital.” It is well known that when the Nehru Stadium and other venues in the Capital hosted national camps, the SAI sports medicine centre was most sought after. In addition, athletes who were training in SAI venues could also access the place for treatment.Chandran says while a skeletal staff is still there “with no work to do”, he is hoping money will again be spent on this project.”The next year will again be important as in the lead- up to the 2012 London Olympics, national camps will be held in New Delhi. If we start now and order equipment and hire staff, we can set up the centre again in a couple of months,” added Chandran.advertisementIt is well known that apart from sports medicine doctors, the centre requires physiotherapists, masseurs, sports psychologists, nutritionists, physiologists and nursing staff.At a time when people in the sports ministry and the SAI are breaking their heads over what will be the legacy value of the CWG, the SAI sports medicine centre surely seems to have been forgotten.last_img read more

Whale movements giving officials hope for survival of wayward beluga

first_imgCACOUNA, Qc – Officials involved with the rescue of a wayward beluga whale earlier this month in northern New Brunswick are cautiously optimistic for its future.The beluga, which is about two metres long, was captured in the Nepisiquit River on June 15 — where it was alone — and transported to Quebec where it was released near Cacouna in the St. Lawrence Estuary.The whale was outfitted with a satellite tracking device so officials could monitor its movements.Marie-Eve Muller of the Quebec City-based Group for Research and Education on Marine Mammals says that over the last few days the whale has been near Trois-Pistoles.The area is heavily frequented by belugas, giving hope to researchers that the beluga is in communication and perhaps even in physical contact with other members of its species.The population of the St. Lawrence belugas has been declining since the early 2000s and it’s believed there are fewer than 900 of them still in existence.They were placed on the endangered species list last fall.last_img read more