Pune: The violent clashes in Bhima-Koregaon on New Year’s Day which left one person dead was not a riot, but a pre-planned attack, according to a report by the coordination committee to assist the police investigations.“Based on inputs from locals, we have gathered enough evidence to prove that the clashes were the culmination of a series of provocative acts orchestrated by Milind Ekbote and the followers of Sambhaji Bhide ‘Guruji’,” RPI (A) leader Dr. Siddharth Dhende, Pune’s Deputy Mayor and a member of the committee, told The Hindu.According to another committee member, the board erected near the tomb of Govind Ganapat Gaikwad, a Dalit from the Mahar communit, who is said to have performed the final rites of the slain Maratha King Sambhaji (Shivaji’s son), was pulled down by Hindutva activists on Ekbote’s instigation three years ago as a precursor to the events of December 29 last year. “Ekbote used to visit Sambhaji’s tomb at Vadhu-Budruk village (4 km from Koregaon-Bhima) and had even floated a ‘committee’ dedicated to its preservation. However, his real purpose during the course of his visits appears to foment caste tensions,” said the member, requesting anonymity.The report further points to inflammatory messages circulating on social media which strongly hint at a conspiracy.On December 15, a provocative message posted by a person allegedly belonging to a Hindutva outfit and doing the rounds on Facebook spoke of “mourning for” Dalits gathering to celebrate the bicentenary of the Bhima-Koregaon battle on January 1.The report refers to social media posts which went viral on December 30 and 31 asking activists to assemble at Vadhu-Budruk. Others spoke of a rally to be addressed by Ekbote and Bhide Guruji.The report further observes (based on inputs from locals and the regional press) that Ekbote was slated to hold a press meet on December 30 at Hotel Sonai in Perne Phata on the Pune-Nagar Road. The meet was apparently called off.“The people we spoke to mention that he held a conference somewhere else. We demand that the police pursue these leads with due diligence,” said Dr. Dhende.He further said that local shopkeepers in Vadhu and surrounding villages said that they were forced to down shutters on December 31 itself.“The next day, the villages adjoining Bhima-Koregaon practiced a veritable social boycott on the Bhim Sainiks and Dalits come to do homage to the Ranstambh (Victory Pillar). The visitors were not given food or water,” said Dr. Dhende.A mob of 1,500-2000 strong comprising of Hindutva activists believed to be the followers of Ekbote and Bhide Guruji was believed to have gathered on January 1 near Bhima-Koregaon at around 9: 30 a.m. with the sole purpose of wreaking havoc and disturbing the peace of the occasion, alleges the report. “The mob split into three groups and began furiously pelting stones, smashing shop windows, damaging vehicles in which the Dalits arrived, not even sparing police vehicles,” said a committee member.The report censures tardy police action which might have precluded the violence.The committee, comprising leaders from major Dalit outfits, was set up under the aegis of Vishwas Nangare-Patil, Inspector-General of Police (Kolhapur Range) on January 9. The octogenarian Bhide ‘Guruji’, a fervent admirer of the Maratha warrior King Shivaji who founded the Shiv Pratishthan, has a formidable following in the Western Maharashtra sugar-belt districts of Sangli, Satara and Kolhapur.Among his biggest followers include Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, both of whom regard Bhide Guruji as an exemplar of simple living and an inspirational teacher.The complaint against Bhide, Ekbote and their supporters in Pimpri was lodged by Anita Ravindra Salve, a member of the Bahujan Republican Socialist Party. Another criminal case was lodged against the duo in Auranagabad. Both cases have been transferred to the Shikrapur police in Pune district.The 85-year-old Hindutva leader has in turn accused Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh (BBM) chief Prakash Ambedkar for wrongly blaming him for the Koregaon Bhima ‘conspiracy’. Rahul Phatangale, a 28-year-old youth, lost his life in the crossfire while he was out to buy vegetables at the time the violence erupted. Around 50 vehicles were burnt in the melee which raged for several hours.
A side is only as good as its leader. Now we have heard comments like “my grandmother could have led the Australian sides in the 1990s to victory”, but they belittle the role of a captain in sport. The captain’s role in any international team is absolutely critical. The captain has to bring the best out of his players. His job is not to teach them how to play but to encourage them to give their best. It may or may not result in a match-winning performance on a certain day but pays off in the long run.Mike Brearley, in his Art of Captaincy, has done a wonderful job in highlighting the role of a captain. When a side is habitually winning, as was common for the West Indies under Clive Lloyd and Australia under Steve Waugh, it is easy to miss the importance of leadership. One has to only look back at West Indies cricket before Lloyd took over to see his contribution. He was able to get the players to rise above their inter-island (inter-country) rivalries and perform under the West Indies flag to become possibly cricket’s greatest team ever. Waugh raised the level of Australia a notch when he took over captaincy.Who would have imagined India winning the World Cup in 1983, or Sri Lanka in 1996? But leaders like Kapil Dev and Arjuna Ranatunga were able to rally their forces admirably, winning the small battles as well as the final frontier by beating seemingly invincible teams. In all World Cups, it’s not about winning the first few games but peaking at the right time. Sides such as South Africa have peaked early and then gone on to lose crucial semi-finals. The World Cup is a marathon, not a sprint. The side that plays best when it reaches the quarter-finals with its players peaking at the right time will be the one that comes out on top.advertisementEach successful captain brings something special to the table, something he shares only with his team members. Different captains have different styles. When I became England’s captain, they had hit rock bottom and needed a firm leader to give them a push up. By the end of my reign, they needed a captain such as Michael Vaughan to help them to go out and express themselves in a carefree manner as they did in the 2005 Ashes series. For this World Cup, all captains will be working out their plans. A captain’s success also depends on his equation with the coach. India and England owe a lot of their recent successes to their respective captain-coach combines. The coach is an integral part of a captain’s success.(Top left) Kumar Sangakkara, M S Dhoni, Andrew Strauss and Ricky PontingA lot will rest on the shoulders of the men I consider as the top four captains of this World Cup. M.S. Dhoni has led India admirably over the past few years. He is calm and unflappable under pressure and seems to be enjoying captaincy. The Indians will be under a lot of pressure at home, and Dhoni will have to alleviate the pressure from his boys. That will hold the key to India’s success in the World Cup. His very successful partnership with coach Gary Kirsten will be put to its toughtest test yet.Kumar Sangakkara is captain of a young and strong Sri Lankan side, which is ranked third on the icc’s odi charts. Like Dhoni, he is also going to feel the “home” pressure, but the Lankans have a solid record at home.Ricky Ponting and Australia can never be counted out. The Aussies are no longer a “great” side, but they are still the world’s top-ranked odi team. Ponting has the capability to inspire his boys and lead a final onslaught but it’s not going to be as easy as it was in the previous three World Cups.Andrew Strauss and Andy Flower have worked brilliantly as a team and inspired England to become the No. 3 Test team. Despite their recent loss to Australia in the odi series, after retaining the Ashes convincingly, England will be a dangerous side. They can beat anyone on their day and Strauss has his team’s backing to the hilt.The dark horse of the tournament is definitely Pakistan. They may be down in the rankings but can never be underestimated. They have been through much turmoil and scandal. Shahid Afridi and his boys will be itching to set things right.The writer is a former captain of the England cricket teamadvertisement
The Pakistan cricket team has more zany characters in one side than the rest of World Cup teams put together. The word’s out: Shahid Afridi’s green brigade might lift the glittering trophy on April 2 in Mumbai. Wasim Akram, a former Pakistan captain, has called it cricket’s incomparable madness. The side has won two matches on the trot, deflating former champions Sri Lanka on their home ground.Occasional prayers on the field, fights over who will bowl the opening spell, community dinners (and lunches on rest days), special supplications to avoid India in the quarter-finals, bans on shopping and nights-out as well as sudden checks on usage of handsets has left the team with just one focus, one target – Returning to their embattled country with the Cup.A look at their eleven: Shahid AfridiCaptain ControlAllah is maalik for anything and everything. That does not stop Shahid Afridi, 31, from being a control freak. He has told his family that he will return only with the World Cup and refuses to let his players’ whims get in the way. He has led from the front and believes he is one of world’s top batsmen. But his batsmen often cannot run fast enough between the wickets and his bowlers are confused about who will get the first ball to start the day. Afridi’s balm is his favourite song, 18 Till I Die by Bryan Adams.Bookies’ Bad BoyThe left-arm spinner could not make an impact against Sri Lanka. Abdur Rehman, 31, just got one wicket and dropped catches. He is already on the scanner of coach Waqar Younus and manager Intikhab Alam and, of course, Afridi. That doesn’t bother Rehman because he never watches the replays. His only worry is that he is hated by the bookies in Pakistan-they call him the bad boy-who doubt the dropped catches against Sri Lanka.advertisementMohammad HafeezThe Hidden TalentHe is an opener, needs his partner, luck and Allah to win the day, especially after his disastrous run out against Sri Lanka. His team mates may think otherwise, but Mohammad Hafeez, 30, considers himself the most valuable player in the side. He has told Afridi that he has a marvellous all-round technique as a right-hand batsman and a right-arm off-spin bowler. Afridi did not care to reply or argue.Wrong NumberPakistan expects Umar Gul, 26, to get the early wickets. Prayer and pressure are constant companions of one of Pakistan’s craftiest seam bowlers. His true love seems to be his hair. His teammates joke that he is constantly looking for Shoaib Akhtar’s shampoo. At the moment he is getting more wickets than the other hair lover, Shoaib Akhtar.Shoaib AkhtarThe Nightwatchman No nights out, just chuck those fireballs. Shoaib Akhtar, 35, has to prove to both fast bowling legend Wasim Akram and coach Waqar Younis that he is Pakistan’s best bet. But some of his friends in India-including Shahrukh Khan and Karan Johar-have told him to enjoy life. Which may be why, in his last moment under the sun, breaking the curfew in Bangladesh, Akhtar took Kamran Akmal for a night out.Face of the NationMisbah-ul-Haq, 36, must get the runs for the side. Pressure mounted on him right from the day the team boarded a flight for Dhaka for the opening ceremony. When he walks out to bat, he just sees the wicket and prays that it doesn’t get hit. He keeps a dartboard with Joginder Sharma’s photo pasted on it. Sharma took the catch of him that defeated Pakistan in 2007. He may be a bit overweight but resents being called an aloo.Younis KhanKhan DoHe is Pakistan’s answer to India’s Sachin Tendulkar and Australia’s Ricky Ponting. Younis Khan, 33, must score runs, otherwise he could face the isi on return. He wants to be subtle and stylish like Rahul Dravid but the team management is wary of fielding him for any press conference. Once in India, when a scribe asked him if he was happy about Indian hospitality, he said he did not go to any hospital. He often smiles when the team is on the verge of defeat. He is visiting a hair specialist to check his receding hairline.Smiling AssassinNervous to the core, the snappy wicket-keeper wants to earn money by writing columns. The problem is that he does not know how to write. Kamran Akmal, 29, has offered his phone number to friendly journalists for quotes. Afridi has asked him to slow down behind the stumps as his antics reminded him of Paksitan’s cricket maverick, Javed Miandad. He has compared him to India’s Kiran More. When Akmal was offered a toothpaste ad, the bet was on how many teeth he would show.advertisementUmar AkmalThe Little BrotherHe watches his brother Kamran perform, and then tries to imitate. Umar Akmal’s world revolves around Kamran. The 20-year-old wants to smile like Kamran, specially when Afridi scolds him, which is often. There were question marks hanging over his inclusion in the playing xi prior to the World Cup, but his fireworks against Kenya have earned him a new name, pocket dynamite.Hide and SeekHe is the double delivery man in the side. Abdul Razzaq, 31, must get big scores every time Pakistan bats and also pick up early wickets. Otherwise his enemies will force the Pakistan Cricket Board to drop him from the national team. The most interesting thing about this all-rounder is that he vanishes from the scene for years and the re-appears with amazing regularity. He hates the pressure of saving the team but has told his mates that he can live with it.Ahmed ShehzaadPraying on DangerAhmed Shehzad, 20, prays five times before stepping out. Australian captain Ricky Ponting is his idol. Someone asked him what he likes most in Ponting, pat came the reply, “aggression.” Shehzad is now learning the trick of breaking tv sets with his gloves. He attributes his brilliant fielding to Ponting who recently broke an lcd tv screen with his gloves. Shehzad has been often seen targeting tv screens with his gloves and that’s the secret behind his sharp throws. He is also proud of his series-winning performance against New Zealand in February.