Sambhaji Shivale claimed that the document mentioned the role played by the 'ancestors' of the Shivale family in conducting the last rites of Maratha king Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj.
Sambhaji Shivale (51), a resident of the historic Vadhu Budruk village in Pune district, on Tuesday, submitted before the Koregaon Bhima Commission of Inquiry a document which, he claimed, was from the ‘British era’. Shivale claimed that the document mentioned the role played by “ancestors” of the Shivale family in conducting the last rites of Maratha king Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj.
Shivale’s chief examination was recorded by Aashish Satpute, the lawyer representing the two-member commission headed by retired Justice J N Patel. The commission was formed in 2018 to probe the causes that led to the violence in Koregaon Bhima on January 1 that year. One person died and several others were injured in the violence.
Located about 4 km from Koregaon Bhima, Vadhu Budruk has the samadhi of Sambhaji Maharaj. Vadhu Budruk also has a disputed tomb-like structure, which, according to the Dalit Mahar community, is the samadhi of Govind Gopal Dhegoji Meghoji, a 17th-century Dalit figure.
Marathas from Vadhu Budruk village believe it was their ancestors, the Shivale Deshmukhs, who defied the orders of Aurangzeb and performed the last rites of Sambhaji Maharaj after he was killed by the Mughal emperor in 1689. The Dalit Mahar community, however, claims that Govind Gopal performed the last rites of the king. The Gaikwad family from the village claim to be successors of Govind Gopal.
A board with the ‘disputed history’ of Govind Gopal was erected by the Gaikwad family in Vadhu Budruk on the intervening night of December 28 and 29, 2017, and was allegedly removed by members of the Maratha community. This led to an altercation, which was seen as one of the triggering factors that led to the violence in Koregaon Bhima on January 1, 2018.
During his cross-examination by advocate Mangesh Deshmukh, Shivale said he is a teacher in a Zilla Parishad primary school and held a bachelor’s degree in history. He said while he was not a researcher, he had an interest in the subject.
Shivale also said that he found it necessary to study the historical facts presented before the commission because issues pertaining to history have been causes of dispute in his village since 2006.
Shivale submitted a document before the commission, claiming that it was from the British era and mentions that ‘Bapuji’ and ‘Padubai (Padmavati) Shivale’ conducted last rites of Sambhaji Maharaj. Shivale stated the handwritten document was known to be a nakkal (copy) prepared by a person from the Shivale family during the British era, at the time when the ‘Inam Commission’ of the British government had sought papers of land ownership.
Shivale said the document supported the old belief that their ancestors conducted the last rites of Sambhaji Maharaj. He also requested the commission to appoint an officer to research this document further by getting additional details from the Archaeological Department.
In his cross-examination, advocate Rahul Makhare questioned Shivale about the script used to write in the document. Shivale said the document was written in ‘Balbodh Marathi’. Makhare claimed that the document was in the Devnagari script. Makhare will continue Shivale’s cross-examination during the next hearing.
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