Maratha reservation row: Activist Manoj Jarange ends hunger strike after meeting with CM Shinde
The state government has already conceded his other demands, including the withdrawal of cases registered against protesters.
The stalemate that continued for 17 days over Maratha reservation came to an end on Thursday morning as Maratha reservation activist Manoj Jarange Patil called off his indefinite hunger strike after chief minister Eknath Shinde, along with other senior state cabinet members, met him at Antarwali-Saatii village in Jalna district.
After a back-and-forth about whether the chief minister should visit Jarange-Patil as he deferred the visit on Wednesday evening, Shinde decided to visit him on Thursday morning. He along with other senior ministers, including Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil, Girish Mahajan, Uday Samant, Union minister of state for railways Raosaheb Danve reached Antarwali Sarati in Jalna and convinced Jarange-Patil to call off the hunger strike.
Jarange-Patil sipped orange juice at the hands of the chief minister to end the hunger strike that has been going on since August 29 for the reservation.
Jarange-Patil, a farmer, has been on an indefinite hunger strike at Antarwali-Sarathi village in Jalna since August 29, demanding that Marathas from Marathwada region be extended reservation under the Other Backward Classes category by declaring them as Kunbis — a sub-caste recognised as OBC.
CM Shinde said that he was committed to the reservation to the Maratha community and visited Jarange-Patil as the latter’s intention was honest and sincere.
“I do not want to name them, but many told me that I should not visit the Jarange Patil as it is against the protocol. Despite this, I decided to come as Jarange-Patil is fighting for his community and not for himself. I have assured him that everything will be done as per the promise and the state government is committed to it. Most of his demands have been fulfilled. The remaining ones will take some time as they need to be legally full proof,” Shinde said.
Shinde also requested Jarange-Patil to take medical treatment at a hospital for at least a few days.
The chief minister’s visit comes after the government delegation led by Girish Mahajan recently met him and held overnight talks. They assured that Jarange-Patil would not put any fresh conditions before the government and would call off his hunger strike.
“This is happening for the first time that a chief minister has come personally to ensure that the hunger strike is called off. We have full faith in CM Eknath Shinde and know that only he can give us the reservation. He has been making all required efforts to restore the reservation. I am thankful to him and his cabinet members for visiting me personally. We have also decided to give 40 days to the state government to complete the study on the measures to be taken to issue the Kunbi certificates to Marathas,” Jarange-Patil said.
He further appealed to the community members to continue the protest peacefully.
Jarange-Patil has already announced to continue the relay hunger strike for the next one month until the government starts issuing them the Kunbi certificates.
The state government has already conceded his other demands, including the withdrawal of cases registered against protesters and the suspension of three senior police officers responsible for the lathi charge on protesters on September 1.
On Monday, after an all-party meeting over the Maratha reservation row, the Maharashtra government decided to withdraw all cases filed against Maratha quota protesters and suspended three senior police officers involved in lathi-charge on agitators in Jalna on September 1 as CM Shinde reiterated his commitment to grant reservation to the influential community and appealed to the main agitator to end his hunger strike.
Shinde also set a deadline of one month for the panel to decide how to give Kunbi caste certificates to Marathas in the Marathawada region.
The demand for quotas by Marathas is decades old, but in 2018, the state government granted 16% reservation in the face of sweeping protests. It was slashed to 13% in jobs and 12% in education by the Bombay high court. In 2021, the Supreme Court quashed the move.