Maratha community protesters held chakka jam (road blockades) at various places in Mumbai and parts of the state to demand reservation in education and government jobs on Tuesday. The protests staged during morning peak hours led to traffic congestion at some places in Mumbai. At several places across Maharashtra, state and national highways, traffic came to a standstill due to the protests.
In Mumbai, the protests were staged at arterial roads at Bhandup, Dahisar, Mulund, near Shivaji statue in Chembur, Jogeshwari-Vikhroli Link Road and Dadar TT. The blockades led to the traffic jams causing inconvenience to a number of office goers. About 200-300 protesters gathered at each of these places till they were detained by the police or dispersed after police action. In Aurangabad, the police resorted to lathicharge to restrain the protesters from blocking the highways. In retaliation, the protestors pelted stones on police teams. Pune-Bangalore highway in Kolhapur, Aurangabad-Solapur highway in Aurangabad, Mumbai-Dhule highway in Nashik saw similar traffic jams.
The agitations were held to gather momentum and mount pressure on the state government before the community’s silent rally scheduled in Mumbai on March 6. Though the road blockades were planned between 11am and 2 pm, at most of the places it started early. “It was a national protest with prior permission at about eight places in Mumbai. It was a warm up to the massive march on March 6 and we received huge response from the community members,” said Virendra Pawar, one of the organisers.
Pawar said that though in some parts of the state it will go on till 2 pm, it has been culminated in the city. He said that couple of youths participants were detained by police in central Mumbai.
The community leaders claimed that the road blockade were held at around 2,000 venues across the state.
The community has been agitating for its various demands since August last year. Besides reservation, the community has been demanding the review of the Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, strictest punishment for the Kopardi rape accused, construction of Shivaji statue in Arabian sea, implementation of the recommendation of the Swaminathan Commission on agrarian crisis among others.