Maharashtra Dhangar community to launch statewide agitation to press for quota under ST category

Mumbai: The various organisations representing the Dhangar community (shepherd) will launch a statewide agitation from September 21 for their long-pending demand for reservation under Scheduled Tribe (ST) category. These organisations have demanded that the Maha Vikas Aghadi should promulgate an ordinance to provide reservation to the Dhangar community. Their call comes at a time when the state government is working out a slew of options to restore Maratha quota which was recently stayed by the Supreme Court.

Veteran leader Prakash Shendge told Free Press Journal that the successive governments are not serious on providing reservation to the Dhangar community. ‘’It is high time that the Dhangar community should get quota under the ST category. The agitation will be held at the village, taluka and district level and it will be launched on Monday from Parbhani,’’ he said.

Shendge made it clear that the Dhangar community is not against the reservation provided to the Maratha community under the Socially and Educationally Backward Classes Act 2018. However, the community has been reiterating for reservation under ST category. ‘’The government must act now,’’ he added.

At present, the Dhangar community gets 3.5 per cent quota in government jobs and education under Nomadic Tribe (C) category, which comes under OBC category. The Dhangar community in the state has a population of about one crore or nine per cent of Maharashtra’s 11.25 crore population.

With the reservation under the ST category, the Dhangar community will be entitled to avail the benefits of more welfare schemes. However, the tribal community is against giving reservation to the Dhangar community from the 7% quota enjoyed by ST in the state.

The community leaders are agitated as the BJP led government during 2014 and 2019 failed to provide reservation despite its poll commitment. The government had engaged the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) to prepare a report on Dhangar quota. Even though TISS had submitted a report to the BJP government, it was never made it public nor was implemented yet.

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