Father of India, Baba Sahib Dr. B.R. Ambedkar has written in one of his articles (Vol.17, Part-3, Page 1 of his “Writings and Speeches”) that…- “Hundred of fighters from their community had fought on the side of the Britishers who later ungratefully dubbed them as non-military community. Since the caste Hindus used to treat them as untouchables and a despicable lot, and in the last resort they joined British forces”. However, when these untouchable castes were given opportunity by the Britishers , to prove their bravery, they repeatedly proved it within and outside the country.”
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As the incident goes: “Capt. Staunton” of the “ Bombay Regiment of the British “ army was dispatched from ‘ Sirur ‘ to hold the ‘ Poona Garrison’ against the invading ‘Peshwa’ Army led by its “ Brahmin General Gokhle.” The British army comprised of merely 500 men of “ Bombay Native Infantry “ together with 250 men of Poona irregular Horse and 2 six-pounder guns with 24 European gunners of the “Madras Artillery”.
Upcoming Movie –500 – The Battle of Bhima Koregaon
Marching continuously the whole night covering 27 Miles, the British army reached “ Koregaon “ in the morning of 1st Jan. 1818. But, the British army, comprising mainly “Mahar soldiers” and a few “Muslims” and a few “Marathas” was fiercely attacked by the ‘Peshwa Army.’ The severely outnumbered British army was encircled by ‘Peshwa Army’ and a fierce hand-to-hand fight ensued which went on for several hours. Indian sepoys, many of them ‘Mahars’ held on doggedly and fought with the ’Brahmin‘ Army fiercely. Capt. Staunton, asked his men to firth to the last man and the last bullet. The ‘Mahars’ showed tremendous valour and fought the battle with bravery against hopeless odds. They kept fighting without rest for over 12 Hours, without food, water or rest, against a large force of 20,000 horses, and 8,000 infantry of the ‘ Peshwa ‘ who was threatening the ‘British Garrisons’ at Kirkee and Poona.
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As the British army was far outnumbered and out-equipped against the Peshwa’s Army & was on the verge of an imminent defeat, it was in a desperate situation. At around 9’o clock in the night, for some reason, the Peshwa Army eased its attack and withdrew from ‘Koregaon.’ Though physically and mentally tiered, a small group of around 500 ‘Mahar soldiers’ came forward and asked their “British Commander” to attack the ‘Peshwa Army’ in the night. Despite the fact that these ‘Mahar’ soldiers were barely armed and exhausted after day long battle, they were raring to go and fight against the “Brahmin Army” of Peshwa which outnumbered them by almost 1 : 40. Yet the daunting ‘Mahars’ attacked the Army of Peshwas at night. The battle continued for many hours and ultimately the ‘Brahmin Peshwa Army’ was defeated and decimated by the handful ‘Mahars’ of the British Army. A total 22 “Mahars” lost their lives ( besides a few Muslims, Marathas and Rajput soldiers of the British Army ) and some got injured. The victory of the British Army, made possible against heavy odds by few hundred “Mahar” soldiers, put the curtains down on the oppressive and cruel “Brahmin Peshwa” Rule in Poona.
Watch Trailer – Upcoming movie – 500 : A Battle of Koregaon
Bravery Honoured:- A commemorative “ Obelisk “ ( Pillar ) was erected by the ‘ British ‘ to Acknowledge and Honour the heroic bravery and courage of the ‘Mahar’ soldiers who brought this victory for them. This 65 feet high stone ‘Obelisk ‘, resting on a 32 feet platform stands there even to this day. Baba Sahib used to go to this place to pay glorious tributes to these ‘Mahar’ Warriors who paved the way for the independence of the oppressed communities of this country form the evil grip of the “ Brahmanical” Rule.
Why ‘Mahars’ sided with the British and fought against an ‘Indian’ Army ?: At the time, of ‘Brahmin Peshwa’ Rule of Poona, the ‘Mahars’ and other untouchable castes were constantly humiliated and exploited in the worst possible manner. Describing this Baba Sahib has written – “Under the rule of “Peshwas”, the untouchables not allowed to walk on the streets; they were required to wear a black thread to identify themselves so that they do not pollute the caste ‘Hindus’. In Poona, the capital of’ Peshwas’, the untouchables were required to carry an earthen pot hung in his neck for holding his spit lest his spit falls on ground and pollutes a ‘Hindu’ who might tread upon it”. No surprise that the “Mahars” who were treated worst than animals by the “Brahmin Peshwas” were more than eager to teach a lesson to their oppressors. While the soldiers of the ‘Peshwa’ Army and other soldiers of the ‘British Army’ were fighting the battle as a part of their “Official Duty”, and to earn wages. But, the “Mahars” fought this battle to regain their lost honour. and take revenge upon their “ Brahmin Oppressors”, who had humiliated them for many Centuries. With that indomitable spirit, the “Mahars” not only defeated the “Brahmins”, But also destroyed their “EVIL EMPIRE” i. e. the “ PESHWA RULE.”.
Written by Sachin Gholap