Maratha Quota Stir: Maratha Kranti Morcha to go ahead with tomorrow’s ‘Bandh’, will aim for ‘peaceful’ protest

Mumbai: The Maratha Kranti Morcha on Tuesday gave hints that it will go ahead with the proposed Maharashtra ‘bandh’ on August 9 even as the Bombay High Court urged restraint upon agitators till the quota issue was resolved. Morcha coordinators from across the state are to meet in Aurangabad on Wednesday to decide on the nature of the shutdown, said sources.

Shantaram Kunjir, one of the coordinators, said that the emphasis of the meeting would be to impress upon the agitating youth to desist from taking the law into their own hands. “Through appeals and exhortations, we are trying to ensure that the August 9 ‘bandh’ is a peaceful one. There has already been much destruction of property during the course of the agitation, especially in Chakan, Solapur and Aurangabad,” Kunjir said,

Underscoring the need for a demonstration and road blockades, he said that the Morcha leaders would be urging protestors to stay within the law as several cases have already been lodged against a number of agitators in the past weeks. The court on Tuesday scheduled the next hearing on the reservation issue on September 10, while urging Maratha protestors to refrain from committing suicides or indulging in violence. “There is no question of calling off the bandh as we have already announced it. We will be requesting all establishments and the public to cooperate during the shutdown. However, we will ensure that agitators do not resort to violent acts or destruction of public property during the course of the shutdown,” said Santosh Shinde of the Sambhaji Brigade.

August 9 is threatening to be a challenge because of protests planned by Dalit organistaions as well. Meanwhile, the quota agitators continued to stage ‘sit-ins’ outside the homes of prominent leaders Members of Parliament (MPs) and Members of Legislative Assembly (MLAs). The demonstrators did not spare prominent opposition leaders like Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar and Maharashtra Congress president Ashok Chavan, both of whom have announced their firm backing of the agitation. Morcha members protested for several hours outside Pawar’s residence in Baramati and Chavan’s home in Nanded.

In an attempt to pacify them, Chavan’s wife, Ameeta Chavan, joined the protestors clamouring for immediate reservation for the Maratha community. Despite declarations of support for the quota issue, Chavan has faced flak from Morcha activists who have accused him of proving ineffectual when the Congress-Nationalist Congress (NCP) coalition was in power in Maharashtra and Chavan was Chief Minister.

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