Photo by BL SONI
Photo by BL SONI

Mumbai: A senior Bharatiya Janata Party minister on Tuesday alleged that the Maratha morcha agitators had planned to recreate a ‘Gowari’-like situation in Pandharpur, which they could have used against Devendra Fadnavis-led BJP government in the 2019 poll. On the other hand, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar held the controversial statements of Fadnavis and Revenue Minister Chandrakant Patil responsible for the outrage among Maratha youths.

The minister, on condition of anonymity, said intelligence reports had suggested the possibility of release of snakes in the midst of devotees, which could create a situation that would lead to stampede. Such messages spread through social media were also spotted by local police,” said the minister.

Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, while cancelling his visit to Pandharpur on Monday, had given the same reason. He had said, “Police have intercepted some messages, like — ‘will release snakes among devotees’, ‘could create a situation that would lead to stampede’, among others. Such plans are being worked out and it is highly disappointing.”

The BJP minister claimed the morcha is not getting the huge support it had garnered during its silent march. “At that time, lakhs of Maratha people had participated in the march. But now, there are not more than 250 participants. That is why they had decided to create Gowari-like situation keeping in mind political mileage,” he claimed. However, he would not say whether a strong political leader was behind the morcha.

Maratha strongman Sharad Pawar, in his press release issued on Wednesday, has stated, the CM’s statement about releasing snakes among devotees was wrong and unfortunate. Even Revenue Minister Patil’s statement that his government has done everything for Marathas has created anger among the community.

Pawar has suggested that the government must seriously consider the reservation demand. Several families from the Maratha community need reservation as they have became financially weak with the splitting of agriculture land from generation to generation. “Forty-two per cent of farmers who committed suicide in the last 2 years were from the Maratha community. These figures are sufficient to prove the condition of the community,” Pawar has stated.

The Gowari stampede

The Gowari stampede occurred at Nagpur on November 23, 1994, in which 114 people from the Gowari community were killed and 500 more injured as Nagpur Police tried to disperse almost 50,000 Gowari protesters with a baton charge. The ensuing panic triggered a stampede amongst the protesters.

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