Sakal Maratha Samaj, the outfit representing Maratha organisations involved in holding protest rallies, has formed a committee of nine experts to study their demands pertaining to reservation and amendments to the Atrocities Act. While the experts will put forth the views of the community and be the face of the “faceless agitation”, the organisers insist the panel will only guide them.
The name of the committee members -- retired justices PB Sawant, BN Deshmukh, SB Mhase, historians Sadanand More, Vasantrao More, Jaisingrao Pawar, retired IAS officer Nirmalkumar Deshmukh, All India Maratha Mahasangh officer-bearer Rajendra Kondhare and SS Tambe– were announced at a meeting of representatives of the community from across the state in Aurangabad on Sunday. The panel will study the legal possibilities to facilitate reservation and amendments to the law, while the groups have prepared a charter of nine demands.
“The experts cannot be termed face of the protests as they will submit the report to us. We will hand it over to collectors along with our memorandum. The protests are still leaderless,” said Mansingh Pawar, an organiser of the protests. “The team will submit a report, which will be submitted to the government. Both the issues deal with legal and historical aspects and we believe the intervention will help the government.”
For the past few weeks, the state has witnessed massive rallies by the Maratha community to demand stern punishment for Kopardi rape and murder accused, along with other demands. The marches have rattled the ruling BJP-Sena, even as the opposition NCP and Congress have supported the agitation. Of late, the focus of the agitation seems to be shifting towards reservation for the community in education and jobs.
The state has been struggling to find a way, in the wake of higher courts not allowing reservation of over 50% in any state and the Bombay high court’s decision of staying the 16% reservation granted to Marathas in November 2014. The government has appointed a team of lawyers to press for reservation for Marathas on the basis of their social and educational backwardness. The organisers feel their team will find a way.
Kondhare said, “The existing provision of compensation at the time of filing the complaint has led to major misuse of the Atrocities Act. Minor offences under the Act should be made bailable and compensation should be given only after the offence is proved. We will finalise the charter of demand in the next few days.”
Kondhare claimed they have appointed 11 people in each district for better coordination, but they cannot be identified as leaders.
Retired justice BG Kolse-Patil had said the organizations should float a political outfit and contest the elections. “Some leaders feel that way, but we have not discussed it,” Kondhare said.
The group has put the rally in Mumbai on hold fearing inconvenience to people working in the financial capital of the country. Instead the organisors have decided to put all the strength behind the Nagpur march on December 14, during the winter session of the state legislature.
The organisers may call off the idea of the rally in Mumbai, if the government comes up with concrete solutions to their demands
Their demands include constitution of an autonomous body in the name of Rajarshi Shahu Maharaj to provide develop skills of youths, allocation of Rs5,000 crore to the defunct Annasaheb Patil Statutory Board, construction of Shivaji Statue in the Arabian Sea, celebration of Shivaji’s birth anniversary only on February 19