Maharashtra to withdraw all Maratha quota cases, suspend officers | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

Maharashtra to withdraw all Maratha quota cases, suspend officers

By, Mumbai
Sep 12, 2023 04:43 AM IST

Chief minister Eknath Shinde reiterated his commitment to grant reservation to the Maratha community.

The Maharashtra government on Monday decided to withdraw all cases filed against Maratha quota protesters and suspended three senior police officers as chief minister Eknath Shinde reiterated his commitment to grant reservation to the influential community and appealed to the main agitator to end his hunger strike.

Maharashtra government decides to withdraw all cases filed against Maratha quota protestors. (Bhushan Koyande)
Maharashtra government decides to withdraw all cases filed against Maratha quota protestors. (Bhushan Koyande)

The announcements came after an all-party meeting attended by all major political parties in the state passed a resolution that appealed to the main protester, Manoj Jarange Patil to call off his 14-day-long hunger strike and asked him to be part of the committee constituted to draft a reservation strategy for Marathas.

“We are admitting the demand of withdrawing all the cases registered against the protesters during their protest last week. The officials concerned have been directed to act immediately on it,” Shinde said. “There was a demand for the suspension of the officials concerned. We are suspending three senior officers, including additional superintendent of police (SP) Rahul Khade and deputy SP Mukund Aghav,” he added.

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.

The current crisis began on September 1, when protesters demanding OBC status for Marathas were lathi-charged by the police in Jalna — the site of Jarange Patil’s hunger strike. All three officers named by Shinde on Monday were part of the operation.

Under pressure, Shinde announced last week that Marathas from the central Maharashtra region can access reservation under the OBC category if they can produce a certificate from the Nizam era classifying them as Kunbis.

But the order — which opened the window for quotas for the community — left all sides unhappy. The Maratha groups said they wanted reservations without any stipulation, and not just for the eight central Maharashtra districts. The OBC and Kunbi groups feared their quotas will be eaten into by the fresh entrants.

Since then, protests over the reservation have intensified as groups backing and opposing quotas for the dominant community have dug in their heels, with the government apparently caught in the middle.

“I appeal to Jarange Patil to give some time to the justice Shinde committee constituted to decide how to issue Kunbi caste certificates to Maratha community members in central Maharashtra. We appeal to him to either be part of the committee or appoint his representative. We are concerned about his health and well-being and also the law and order in the state,” the CM said after the meeting.

“We have also passed a resolution unanimously to appeal to Jarange Patil to call off his hunger strike,” he added.

Jarange Patil said he will discuss the proposals with his associates on Tuesday and take a decision but added that neither him nor a representative will join the Shinde committee.

Shinde said that his government was committed to restore Maratha reservation. “A dedicated commission has been appointed to weed out the lacunae pointed out by the apex court. We are tapping the option of curative petition and other legal alternatives. We have appointed a task force of senior counsels to represent us in the Supreme Court. We are taking the steps to establish the social and educational backwardness of the community,” he added.

The CM also assured OBCs that their reservation will not be touched. “Do not come under any false propaganda. I appeal to the members from the OBC community to not resort to the protest and cooperate with us,” he said.

Leaders from the Congress, Sharad Pawar faction of the Nationalist Congress Party, Shiv Sena (UBT), Bahujan Vikas Aghadi, Peasants and Workers Party, Samajwadi Party and other smaller parties attended the meeting that went on for more than two hours.

“We have not yet discussed this issue within the opposition alliance, but we do not want to do any politics over it. The Congress is of the opinion of (providing reservation to the Marathas,” Congress leader Balasaheb Thorat said.

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