Around 50,000 people, predominantly women and youth, took part in the silent morcha of the Maratha community on Wednesday to ramp up their demand for reservations in jobs and education, capital punishment for the rapists of a minor in Kopardi and amendments in the SC/ST Atrocity (Prevention) Act.
The morcha began from Yashwant Stadium in south Nagpur at 12.15 pm, which was supposed to start at 10am. Several politicians from all political parties, including legislators participated in the march that culminated into a rally at T-Point near state legislature assembly, where the winter session of the state legislature is in progress, at 2.15 pm.
When senior cabinet ministers — Chandrakantdada Patil and Vinod Tawde — reached the venue, they were told about the demands of Maratha community by organiser Madhukar Meherkar.
Later, a delegation of six girls went to the Assembly Hall and submitted a memorandum to chief minister Devendra Fadnavis.
This morcha, however, did not see the kind of footfall earlier protests by the community have witnessed. Around 50,000 people from all over the state participated this time with fewer people from Kunbi community of Vidarbha region.
However, Anant Gharad, one of the organisers and a Kunbi leader said over 1 lakh people participated in the march.
The prominent legislators, who had participated in the morcha, include Ashish Shelar, Ashish Deshmukh (both BJP), Bharat Gogavale (Shiv Sena), Bhai Jagtap (Congress) and Vidya Chavan of NCP. Besides, the BJP Rajya Sabha member and a descendant of Maratha warlord, Chhatrapati Shivaji, Sambhaji Raje Bhonsale, also participated in the silent march.
The organisers ensured that there was no sloganeering or applauding. Traffic in many areas, especially in south Nagpur and west Nagpur, was severely hit since morning. Several schools, colleges and shops remained shut and city buses were off the roads in several area. Few cinema halls cancelled their afternoon shows in support of the march.