Mumbai: After nearly a week, Maharashtra breathed fresh air without any incident of reported violence by the Maratha Kranti Morcha and Sakal Maratha Samaj. The ‘Jail Bharo’ andolan called by the agitators on Wednesday was a flop show. Only 22 to 26 agitators were seen at Azad maidan whereas the Aurangabad, Latur, Solapur and Pune which were epicentre of previous Maratha violence were calm and received poor response to the call for protest.
Virendra Pawar, convenor of Sakal Maratha Samaj admitted the response was not as expected. “Most of our leaders have gone underground fearing more police action. Last time they registered cases against our activists across the state. This is the main reason for activists to stay away from today’s protest,” said Pawar. He added, at every taluka and city level, local agitators staged protests in front of the residences of local legislators and Members of Parliament and also conducted jail bharo andolan. “We are gathering the information from the units across the state. We are planning for August 9, agitation. There will be no morcha in Mumbai. We will gather at some place to protest against the state government. In the same way, agitators will gather in each city.”
He added, “We are concerneds about the Maratha youths who are committing suicide for the cause. These incidents are unfortunate and sad.” On the other hand, the state government is working on war footing, after taking meeting of bankers and educational institutions to ensure they will help Maratha students, the Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has directed all district collectors to form a committee to review implementation of scheme related to youths. Fadnavis will convene a meeting of party legislators on Thursday where he may direct them to reach out policies and decisions of the state up to the Maratha community.
26 protestors detained
Unlike the recently held Maratha morcha on July 24, on Wednesday, the call for Jail Bharo received a poor response. Out of 40 protesters of Maratha Kranti Morcha who had gathered at Azad Maidan on Wednesday to protest the police cases registered against them. 26 persons were detained by Azad maidan police on July 24, when the Maratha community leaders were accused of rioting. The morcha had turned violent, however the leaders claimed the disruption was caused by ‘outsiders’ and claimed their leaders were not involved.
Abhishek Trimukhe, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Zone 1), “We have detained 26 protestors under Section 68 of the Maharashtra Police Act. It was a peaceful protest and there was no law and order problem. There were no incidents of violence reported on Wednesday.”
The protestors were let off on Wednesday evening. The major demands of the protesters included decision on the Maratha quota at the earliest, all cases against Maratha protesters be taken back, action against the officers responsible for firing and lathi charge during the July 25 protest, resignation or sacking of ministers and Members of Legislative Assembly (MLAs) who gave irresponsible statements against Maratha community. Besides reservation, the outfit has also been demanding for a complete loan waiver, justice in the Kopardi rape case, and a solution to unemployment for their community. After police action was taken to control their violent protests on July 24, the most recent demand of the protestors is for compensation to those injured during the protest as well as to the families of those who died.
‘Legal framework must to be strong’
Amid the raging Maratha quota row, Maharashtra Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar on Wednesday said the government does not want to ‘fool’ the community with a hurried decision which may end up in a long court battle.
Speaking to reporters here, Mungantiwar said Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis was making all efforts to give reservation to the community and emphasis was being laid on following of all due processes. The politically influential Maratha community, which constitutes around 30 per cent of the state’s population, has been agitating for reservation in jobs and education sector. Mungantiwar said the legal framework for providing reservation has to be strong so that it cannot be challenged in court.
He said the reservation protesters should realise that the government is sincerely working out a plan and that they should not pose a hindrances in the way of agitations. “Maharashtra follows the ideology of BR Ambedkar and Jyotirao Phule. Their way of thinking should be upheld by those protesting,” he said. In a democracy, people have the freedom to protest, but it should be done peacefully, he said.
“When expressing their ‘mann ki baat’ (inner voice), people should not resort to violence or damage property as it is a loss of the taxpayers’ hard-earned money,” he told reporters here.