On 31 st December, 2017, some met in Fort Shaniwarwada in Pune to commemorate a historic event from January 1st 1818, a battle in which the Peshwas (Brahmins) were defeated by the British forces though the loss was huge on both sides. This had been a part of the third Anglo Maratha wars which led to British domination in Maharashtra ultimately.
The programme had speeches and cultural performances and police presence. The British victory nearly two hundred years ago was seen as a Dalit victory over Peshwas as Dalits had manned the British army against the Brahmin Peshwas. On January 1 st 2018, one Dalit was killed in the violence that ensued over the meet among different groups who clashed over differences of opinion.
Number of activists, some of them allegedly communists as Maoist involvement was suspected, were arrested over the event. What bordered on the ludicrous was that one activist was arrested for possessing incriminating documents like Tolstoy’s War and Peace. The judge is reported to have said: “War and Peace is about war in another country. Why were you keeping these books at your house?”
Later the judge clarified he had meant was Biswajit Roy’s War and Peace in Junglemahal: People, State and Maoists, published in May 2012. This is a book on peace process started with Maoists who lived in Junglemmahal, an area that stretches over Bankura, Birbhum, Purluia and parts of West Midnapur districts, West Bengal. In 2011 Mamata Banerjee had initiated peace talks with the rebels which failed.
Read more about this comedy of errors over books named ‘War and Peace’ in this article in The Print.
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