The organisers of the Maratha protests on Thursday announced that a massive protest march will be taken out in Mumbai on January 31. The community has been staging protests across the state over the past few months.
The organisers of the protests, Maratha Kranti Morcha, said the Mumbai march will see highest-ever turnout. The Mumbai march will be staged just before elections to civic bodies in major cities, including Mumbai and district councils governing 26 districts of the state — being touted as the mini-assembly elections expected to be held in February.
Various organisations participating in the protests attended a meeting in Aurangabad on Thursday and decided to hold the march on January 31. “To maintain the pressure built on the government, we have decided to hold a march in Mumbai. More than three crore community people came onto the street during the marches in various districts. It resulted in positive steps by the government in the past few months. The major demand of reservation is still pending in court and by organising the march, we want the government to expedite the process,” said Mansingh Pawar, one of the organisers.
The marches that started in protest of a brutal rape and murder of a girl in Ahmednagar district, later became a statewide phenomenon. The major demands of the community now are death sentence of the accused in the Ahmednagar case, reservation in government jobs and education for the Maratha community and a review of the Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. The protest marches are characterised by silent protests, absence of any leaders to lead them and a considerable number of youth, including women. The last protest march was held in Nagpur, after which the state government had offered to hold talks with community leaders and organisers of the protest.
The march has been organised on Tuesday to coincide with the cabinet meeting and days before the corporation and district council elections expected to be held in mid-February. The Bharatiya Janata Party-led government has been facing the ire of the community. It has also taken several steps to pacify the community. The latest is the re-constitution of the state backward class commission, which is expected to consider the demand for reservation for Marathas. The organisers aim to send a message to the ruling parties that they could take a hit during the civic elections if their demands were not met immediately.
“I do not think the government has been serious about reservation for the community. Although it has submitted an affidavit, its taking longer time. Although the government has announced various freeships in education, its condition of 60% marks in Class 10 has deprived most of the community students of the benefit. Similarly, the bhoomipujan was performed without having completed basic technical formalities. We believe it is just hogwash by the government,” said Vinod Patil, another community leader, who has been fighting the legal battle of reservation in the court. He said a charter of the demand will be submitted to governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao, instead of the government, to condemn its inaction.
The organisers also inaugurated a central office as Aurangabad to monitor the arrangements for the Mumbai march. The organisers from various districts have been directed to hold meetings to chalk out a strategy to make the march successful. The organisers have claimed that although the community people from across the state are expected to participate, the major thrust will be on cities such as Thane, Panvel, Nashik, Pune and Ulhasnagar.
The organisers have been deferring the march in the financial capital for fear it may give the community a bad if the protests disrupt Mumbai. All the silent marches with the participation of lakhs of people were touted to be disciplined and spontaneous.
Maratha protest march to start in Nagpur now