Sambhaji Brigade

Sambhaji Brigade is an extremist militant Maratha organisation[1] based in Maharashtra, India. It is a branch of the Maratha Seva Sangh.[2] The Brigade is named after the Maratha king Sambhaji son of the first Maratha king Shivaji and gained exposure after they attacked and vandalised the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute in Pune in protest against American scholar James Laine’s book on Shivaji titled Shivaji: Hindu King in Islamic India.[3][4] Currently the head of this organisation is Pravin Gaikwad. Sambhaji Brigade demands reservation for the Maratha community and wants inclusion of Marathas in Other Backward Classes (OBC) category. They also demand free education for Maratha children and registered marriages instead of religious ceremonies.[5][6] The organization has been described as having an anti-Brahmin caste stand and has been repeatedly criticized for its extremist views.[7][8][9][10]

ControversiesEdit

Sambhaji Brigade is known for aggressive and violent agitations. Their first violent protest was an attack on Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute. Several historical records were destroyed in this attack including handwritten copies by Adya Shankaracharya. This was followed by uprooting of Dadoji Kondev's Statue from Lal Mahal, then by attacks on Waghya dog's statue on Raigad fort and then by attacks on R. R. Patil.

2004 James Laine incidentEdit

 
Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, Pune

A group of brigade members[11] attacked and vandalised the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute(BORI) in January 2004. The attack was prompted by the controversy over James Laine's controversial[12] book Shivaji: Hindu King in Islamic India (OUP, 2003); scholars from the institute had collaborated with Laine on information for his book about the founder of the Maratha Empire, Shivaji, which the group had viewed as blasphemy claiming that book features "derogatory remarks on Shivaji and his mother".[13][14][15] Angry mob of Sambhaji Brigade stormed the BORI and destroyed priceless manuscripts and artifacts. Then Prime Minister of India Atal Bihari Vajpayee condemned this violence though he upheld the importance of disagreement and debate in a democracy.[14] After the incident 72 members of the group were arrested.[13] In 2004 the director-general of police announced that a legal ban on the organization was being investigated, but as of 2015, organization has never been banned.[16]

Statue of Dadoji KonddevEdit

In 2010, NCP-controlled Pune Municipal Corporation's (PMC) decision to remove the statue of Dadoji Kondadev was claimed to be consistent with the party's policy to encourage demands of hardline Maratha groups. It is claimed that such a stance had helped the NCP maintain its dominance among the Maratha youth in Pune and rural Maharashtra.[17] Sambhaji Brigade was also involved in a protest to remove the statue of Dadoji Kondadev from Lal Mahal in Pune claiming that he was just introduced as teacher of Shivaji by Brahmin historians. About 30 to 40 people entered Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) and attacked Mayor's office.[18] This led to a statewide protest by Political parties such as BJP, Shiv Sena and MNS.[19] Following to this Government of Maharashtra (which included NCP) removed name of Dadoji Konddev from school history books stating that Government's committee of historians found no evidence that Dadoji Konddev was teacher of Shivaji. The move was heavily criticized by historians and scholars. Some members of the government-appointed committee also resigned in protest citing that the committee head Jaysing Pawar only had caste considerations in mind when submitting the report, without regard to actual historical evidence.[20]

Attack on Waghya's Statue on Raigad FortEdit

 
Statue of Waghya at Raigad Fort

The group was also responsible for a protest and attack against a dog's (Waghya) statue located on Raigad Fort next to Shivaji's memorial. According to legend the dog (named Waghya) was Shivaji's dog. The group claimed that the dog was not real and there should not be a memorial for it. This act was strongly opposed by local Dhangar community for they believe that the dog was real.[21] In fact many people say that Waghya was Shivaji's dog and the reason for why the memorial was constructed over there.[citation needed]

Ram Ganesh Gadkari bust vandalismEdit

In January 2017, four Sambhaji Brigade followers pulled down a bust of celebrated Marathi playwright Ram Ganesh Gadkari which was located in Sambhaji Park in central Pune and threw it in the nearby Mutha river. The Chandraseniya Kayastha Prabhu (CKP) community, the community to which Gadkari belonged later organized a meeting to protest this incident at the Ram Ganesh Gadkari Rangayatan (a theater named after Gadkari) in Thane. Sambhaji Brigade claimed that Gadkari had portrayed Sambhaji in bad light in an unfinished play Rajsanyas, written a century ago by referring to some out-of-context content.[22][23][24]

Indian National Congress leader Nitesh Rane later rewarded the vandals and made inflammatory remarks claiming that he had announced a reward earlier in 2016 for removing the bust, and was proud of the act carried out by the accused.[25] He also tweeted that Sambhaji Brigade was not involved in the act, even when the outfit had claimed responsibility for the action.[26] The vandalism was largely seen as an attempt to garner votes by playing the community card in the city's civic elections which were due to be held in a few weeks.[27]

LeadershipEdit

Purushottam Khedekar is one of the founders of this organisation. He is also a prominent leader in the Maratha Seva Sangh, a related organisation and co-founder of Shiva Dharma. Khedekar has written several anti-Brahmin books like Bhatta Cha Kardhankal (a book with virulently anti-Brahmin propaganda) and Maharaj Mala Maaf Kara (Translates as "Your Majesty, I ask for your forgiveness". This book abused 17th century Marathi Hindu saint Samarth Ramdas. Pune Police issued an arrest warrant against Khedekar for inciting anti-Brahmin feelings and causing caste discrimination.[28] In 2015 he submitted an affidavit in the court and apologized unconditionally for his remarks on Brahmin women.

Shiva DharmaEdit

The Maratha Seva Sangh, founded by Khedekar, has been demanding reservations for the Maratha community and is also supporting creation of a new religion of its own called 'Shiva Dharma' with Bahujan icons as Gods.[29][30]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Kamlesh Sutar, How Bhima Koregaon battle anniversary turned into a riot Archived 17 September 2018 at the Wayback Machine, Daily O, 2 January 2018.
  2. ^ Storytellers @work. katha. 2004. p. 70. ISBN 8189020013. Archived from the original on 2 February 2020. Retrieved 29 May 2018.
  3. ^ NUSSBAUM, Martha (2008). The Clash Within. Harvard University Press. ISBN 978-0-674-03059-6. Archived from the original on 27 June 2014. Retrieved 29 October 2016.
  4. ^ "Row over award to historian Babasaheb Purandare". The Hindu. 5 May 2015. Archived from the original on 12 December 2017. Retrieved 16 July 2015.
  5. ^ "Sambhaji Brigade Wants Marathas in OBC Category - Nov 12,2012". Outlook. Archived from the original on 20 February 2014. Retrieved 17 May 2013.
  6. ^ "Sambhaji Brigade seeks inclusion of Marathas as OBC community". DNA India.
  7. ^ "The rise of India's EQ". Hindustan Times. Archived from the original on 29 August 2011.
  8. ^ "Shivaji is vote bank sabre, rattled in the face of history". Tehelka. Archived from the original on 15 December 2004. Retrieved 19 May 2012.
  9. ^ Siddharth, Kelkar (22 November 2008). "Rift widens: Sambhaji Brigade flays Shiv Sangram chief - Indian Express". The Indian Express. Retrieved 13 January 2012.
  10. ^ "CHARGE OF THE PK (SAMBHAJI) BRIGADE". Archived from the original on 9 January 2018. Retrieved 9 January 2018. ..the brigade, which is a which is against brahminic system of castism organisation...
  11. ^ Nussbaum, Martha C. (2008). The Clash Within: Democracy, Religious Violence, and India's Future. Harvard UP. p. 240. ISBN 978-0-674-03059-6. Archived from the original on 27 June 2014. Retrieved 13 January 2012.
  12. ^ "Supreme Court lifts ban on James Laine's book on Shivaji". The Times of India. 9 July 2010. Archived from the original on 10 November 2016. Retrieved 16 July 2015.
  13. ^ a b "Front demands destroying copies of Laine's book - Times of India". Indiatimes. 16 January 2004. Retrieved 13 January 2012.
  14. ^ a b "Maharashtra govt bans James W. Laine's biography on Shivaji". India Today. 2 February 2004. Archived from the original on 20 July 2015. Retrieved 16 July 2015.
  15. ^ "The Hindu : Politics and the cult of the Chhatrapati". The Hindu. 1 April 2004. Archived from the original on 11 April 2012. Retrieved 13 January 2012.
  16. ^ "Ban on Sambhaji Brigade likely: DGP - Times of India". Indiatimes. 8 January 2004. Archived from the original on 17 January 2014. Retrieved 13 January 2012.
  17. ^ "Why NCP needs Sambhaji Brigade". Hindustan Times. 28 December 2010. Archived from the original on 23 July 2015. Retrieved 17 July 2015.
  18. ^ "Sambhaji Brigade attacks Pune Mayor's office". ibnlive.com. Archived from the original on 18 January 2014. Retrieved 29 August 2012.
  19. ^ Dadoji’s statue in Pune sparks statewide protests Archived 2010-07-02 at the Wayback Machine, Mumbai Mirror
  20. ^ "Nothing against Brahmins in removing name of Konddev from text books: Maratha outfit". The Indian Express. 7 June 2009. Archived from the original on 25 February 2016. Retrieved 17 July 2015.
  21. ^ Maratha outfit declares war on Shivaji's dog Archived 5 June 2014 at the Wayback Machine , IBN Live
  22. ^ "Sambhaji Brigade vandalises statue of litterateur R.G. Gadkari in Pune".
  23. ^ "Sambhaji Brigade Vandalises Playwright's Statue for 'Insult' to Shivaji a Century Ago". Archived from the original on 9 January 2018. Retrieved 9 January 2018.
  24. ^ "Maratha pride (and votes): Why the statue of a legendary Marathi playwright was vandalised in Pune". 7 January 2017. Archived from the original on 10 August 2018. Retrieved 9 January 2018.
  25. ^ "Cong MLA Rane rewards vandals". Archived from the original on 9 January 2018. Retrieved 9 January 2018.
  26. ^ "Nitesh Rane rewards vandals but why is Congress tolerant to such intolerance by its MLA?". Archived from the original on 9 January 2018. Retrieved 9 January 2018.
  27. ^ "Maratha pride (and votes): Why the statue of a legendary Marathi playwright was vandalised in Pune". Archived from the original on 10 August 2018. Retrieved 9 January 2018.
  28. ^ "BJP demands ban on book on Shivaji". The Indian Express.
  29. ^ "MSS founder's wife quits BJP to join NCP". Daily News and Analysis. 21 September 2013. Archived from the original on 26 July 2015. Retrieved 16 July 2015.
  30. ^ "sambhaji-brigade-maratha-protest-organisers-turn-political-party". Hindustan Times. Archived from the original on 30 November 2016. Retrieved 30 November 2016.

External linksEdit