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Maratha leaders divided over atrocities act and reservation

maratha silent protests Updated: Sep 27, 2016 14:19 IST
Yogesh Joshi

Marathas held a silent march in Pune.(HT Photo)

As the mobilisation of Marathas reached a peak with a mammoth march in Pune on Sunday, the demands made by representatives have divided leaders from the community. While a large number of people supported the demand raised by Chhatrapati Shivaji’s descendent Udayanraje Bhosale about scrapping the prevention of atrocities act as well as reservation, others have taken a different stand.

Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis said the government is ready to discuss various issues with the community.

Speaking at Navi Mumbai, Fadnavis reiterated his government’s stand of ensuring reservation for the community. Fadnavis, however, said different demands have come forward during protest marches held at various places. “If the government has to act on these demands, a discussion with the community has to be held.”

Bhosale, an MP from the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), said the community will not settle for mere amendments in the Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. “When the act was enacted, it was relevant as certain sections needed protection. However, it has come to the notice that act is being misused against Marathas, which makes us demand the act to be revoked,” said Bhosale, who is from the 13th generation of Shivaji’s lineage.

The Satara MP has also said merit should be the sole criterion as the present quota system has created fissures among different communities.

“If we have to achieve a caste-less society, there has to be only one criterion, which is merit. Reservation on the basis on caste has created fissures among communities,” Bhosale said in Pune during the silent rally.

The remarks made by Bhosale contradict others who want the act to just be altered as well as reservation for Maratha community. A press note issued by the organisers of the rally demanded an amendment in the Atrocity Act.

Bhai Jagtap, a Maratha leader and a member of the Congress, said he and his party have always asked for the act to prevent misuse. “We have never demanded the act to be revoked. We want the atrocities act to stay but with amendments.”

Scores of Marathas on Sunday participated in a peace march at Pune, bringing the city to a standstill. The march began in the morning from the Deccan area and ended at Vidhan Bhavan, where a delegation from the community submitted a list of demands to district collector Saurabh Rao.

NCP leader Ajit Pawar, Dilip Walse Patil, Congress members Harshavardhan Patil, Shiv Sena leaders Vijay Shivtare, Shivajirao Adhalrao Patil and Srirang Barne were present for the march.