New Delhi, Jan 3 : The riots in Bhima-Koregaon in Pune during the 200th anniversary celebrations of the Anglo-Maratha War of 1818 forced adjournments in both Houses of Parliament on Wednesday, with the Congress demanding a probe by a Supreme Court judge and a statement by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) clashed in the Lok Sabha over the violence, which left a youth dead.
The Congress leaders blamed the state’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government for the unrest, while Parliamentary Affairs Minister H.N. Ananth Kumar accused the Congress of politicising the issue and “dividing the masses”.
Before the issue was raised, Speaker Sumitra Mahajan cautioned that allegations and counter-allegations would not solve the problem.
Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge said atrocities against Dalits were on the rise and blamed “some fascist powers” for it.
The Congress demanded a probe in the Bhima-Koregaon incident by a Supreme Court judge and a statement from Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the issue.
“When Dalits start living with dignity and organise some event, there are some people who try to disturb it. This happened in Koregaon (in Pune district),” Kharge said.
He said Dalits had never been a part of armies before the British came, to which Mahajan said that Dalits were a part of Maratha ruler Shivaji’s army.
Kharge then said: “It is a bid to divide the Mahars and the Marathas by some Hindu extremists and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).”
“Wherever the BJP is in power, there is discrimination against Dalits,” he said and accused Modi of being “silent” on the issue of atrocities against Dalits.
Ananth Kumar hit back at the Congress, saying the opposition party was trying to divide the masses.
“He (Kharge) does not want to resolve the problem in Maharashtra, he is trying to incite people. He is doing politics.
“As the British divided and ruled the people, the Congress is doing the same… This should be a forum to give a message of peace,” he added.
Trinamool Congress leader Saugata Roy condemned the clashes, while Shiv Sena MP Shivaji Adhalrao Patil urged the Centre to speak with the Maharashtra government on the situation.
Raosaheb Patil Danve of the BJP said the celebrations in Bhima-Koregaon had been taking place every year and no such incident had happened in the past.
As the Speaker proceeded to take up legislative business, the Congress members protested demanding a statement from Modi.
When the Congress members started shouting slogans near the Speaker’s podium, the Speaker briefly adjourned the House.
Hundreds of thousands of Dalits had assembled at the Vijay Stambh (victory pillar) erected by the British in Sanaswadi village in Maharashtra when stone-pelting began, allegedly by some rightwing groups carrying saffron flags.
In the ensuing violence, more than 30 vehicles were torched or damaged and a young man was killed.
Over the last three days, the riot has spread out to Mumbai, the state capital, and some other pasts of the state.
In the Rajya Sabha, opposition members created a ruckus over the violence in Maharashtra forcing repeated adjournments.
The first adjournment came minutes after the House met for the day. As the opposition members raised the issue demanding a discussion during Zero Hour, Chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu adjourned it till 12 noon.
As soon as the House met again, the opposition members protested again against the “anti-Dalit” violence. The Chair first instructed suspension of the live telecast of the House proceedings and later adjourned the House till 2.00 p.m.
For a second time in this session, the Rajya Sabha TV had to suspend live telecast on Naidu’s instructions.
The riots in Bhima-Koregaon in Pune district on Monday led to the death of 28-year-old Rahul Fatangale.
The Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party blamed the BJP-Shiv Sena government in the state for security lapses that led to the violence.
The Congress kept up the attack on the government outside the House also, with Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad accusing the Modi government of being “anti-Dalit”.
“We gave a notice in the Rajya Sabha that the proceedings in the House proceedings should be stopped and discuss the attack and exploitation of the Dalits in the past three-and-a-half years,” Azad said.
“Wherever there is BJP government, Dalits have been being exploited. They are being beaten up, raped and then killed and also burnt alive,” he added.