The agitation for Maratha reservations took an ugly turn on Thursday as demonstrators pelted stones at a helicopter carrying Maharashtra Finance Minister Dilip Walse-Patil at Shivneri fort near Pune.
Three activists of the Sam-bhaji Brigade, a Maratha outfit, and a policeman were injured in the ensuing police lathi-charge. The incident took place a little before Chief Minister Ashok Chavan’s arrival for a function to pay tribute to Maratha king Shivaji on his birth anniversary. Shivneri fort is Shivaji’s birthplace.
Walse-Patil said the stones did not hit the helicopter and by the time Chavan came, the situation had been brought under control by the police.
Outfits like Maratha Mahasangh, Maratha Seva Sangh and Sambhaji Brigade have been agitating for inclusion of the Maratha caste in the OBC list so they can get the benefit of reservation in government jobs and education. A committee of experts appointed by the government has already rejected the demand. But under pressure, Chavan has appointed another committee to reconsider the demand.
Earlier, the outfits had said they wouldn’t allow Chavan into Shivneri. But they changed their stance after meeting him on Wednesday. The Maratha Seva Sangh, however, said it was unable to communicate this to its workers.