Thousands of people from Maratha community took part in a silent march brought out from Nehru Ground at Amravati in west Vidarbha on Thursday afternoon demanding reservations in education institutions and government jobs.
They are also seeking scrapping of the contentious SC/ST Atrocities (Prevention) Act.
Members of the community have been taking out such rallies, locally called morchas, in various cities of the Marathwada region, including Beed, Aurangabad, Parbhani, Nanded, Osmanabad and Latur over the last one month in the wake of brutal rape and murder of a 14-year-old girl in Kopardi village earlier this year.
The accused in the case allegedly threatened the parents of the victim saying he would file an atrocity case against them under SC/ST Atrocities (Prevention) Act if they lodged a rape and murder case against him. This triggered the unrest in the region.
These morchas are attracting huge crowds. Thursday’s march at Amravati, some 150 kms from here, was however conspicuous by the absence of prominent leaders of the community.
Most of the participants were college students. Some lawyers, doctors and farmers too participated in the march, that also drew a large number of women.
This is the second such silent march taken out in the region after Akola.
The procession started from the Nehru ground around 12 noon and is expected to reach the district collectorate by this evening, criss-crossing a distance of 4-5 kms in the city.
“The march is not against any caste but against the tendency witnessed in the Kopardi case. We want that SC/ST Atrocities (Prevention) Act should be scrapped immediately and the government should come out with a reservation policy for the community,” says Subhash Thakre, a college student who took part in the march.
He said that a team of around 1,000 dedicated volunteers was formed for the security of the march and to ensure peace and harmony.
Thakre said that college youths and women would lead the morcha as no politician or other leaders participated in the march.
The marchers are likely to submit a memorandum to the district collector to press for their demands.