Maratha quota stir: Jail bharo andolan today

Police say security arrangements in place

Mumbai: Maratha outfits in Maharashtra announced that they will launch a ‘jail bharo andolan’ on Wednesday morning pressing for reservations in government jobs and education.

According to a press note, the Maratha Kranti Morcha (MKM) will take up the agitation at Azad Maidan in the city. About 150 members of the community will stage the protest, taking every precaution to ensure that there is no intrusion by “outsiders”.

“We have provided the police with names of those participating in the protest to prevent unscrupulous elements from hijacking the protest. We will stage the andolan in a peaceful manner so that no more police cases are registered against the protesters,” said MKM coordinator Amol Jadhavrao.

The group decided to stage the jail bharo agitation after it came to their attention that some coordinators involved in previous protests had joined hands with the government. “We found that these individuals entered into negotiations with chief minister Devendra Fadnavis. Congress MLA Nitesh Rane named some of them on the social media. After that, we decided to go our own way. We will not compromise with the government until all our demands are fulfilled,” said Jadhavrao.

The demands put forth by the MKM include a governmental decision on the Maratha quota at the earliest; withdrawal of cases against protesters; action against officers responsible for firing and lathi-charge during the July 25 protest; sacking of politicians who made “irresponsible” statements on the community; farm loan waivers; and justice in the Kopardi rape case. They also want due compensation for those killed or injured in the protests.

Apart from demanding reservations for Marathas, the protesters are also demanding an apology from Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis for hurting the sentiments of the community. Another Maratha outfit – the Sakal Maratha Morcha (SMM) – has also lent its support to the agitation.

As per the Mumbai police, adequate security arrangements have been made to maintain law and order during the agitation with beefed up security.

On July 27, Fadnavis had invited party leaders of both the houses to a Vidhan Sabha meeting aimed at discussing the ongoing Maratha stir. He also chaired a meeting with BJP ministers and party legislators from the Maratha community to discuss the issue.

“What is going on in the state today is deeply disturbing,” Fadnavis said of the ongoing agitation. “If we look at reservations only from an emotive angle, we will succeed only in fanning anger in the community. But, if we have to ensure reservation to the community, we must understand its legal aspects. Our stance is that reservation must be legally sound.”

Some protesters staged a “rasta roko” protest on the Aurangabad-Jalgaon road on Tuesday. On Monday, around 100 buses were burned or pelted with stones in a sudden bout of violence that took place during a Maratha demonstration seeking reservation.

Six people have committed suicide till now in Maharashtra due to the ongoing agitation.

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