United they stand: Muslims, Sikhs support Marathas as lakhs rally in Thane
Following the massive protest in Kolhapur on Saturday, lakhs of Marathas in Thane and Palghar held a silent protest in Thane on Sunday. Members of the Sikh and Muslim communities supported the march by serving the protestors water and cold drinks.
Organisers said nearly 10 lakh people joined silent protest. However, the actual figure has not been verified. Residents aged two to eighty years joined the march.
The state had announced several schemes for helping Marathas gain admission to professional courses, hoping to ease tension among the community. However, the community refused to compromise on their prime demands, including reservation for the community, justice for the Kopardi rape victim and amendments to the Atrocity Act.
The city witnessed crowds of saffron-clad protestors.
The women-led protest was organised in a disciplined manner. A cleanliness crew ensured that protestors did not litter the city with bottles or paper bags. The protesters were addressed occasionally through stages and screens set up at various locations. College students were active participants.
Muslim women joined the rally. The Mali Samaj from Rajasthan too participated, saying the Marathas deserved reservation, as they had been fighting for it for years.
Traffic flowed smoothly as flyovers and bridges were open, while the protesters occupied the road and service roads below. Several internal roads were closed but not many commuters were affected.
All the local representatives from Thane, including NCP MLA Jitendra Awhad, Shiv Sena MLA Pratap Sarnaik, PWD minister Eknath Shinde, BJP corporator and standing committee chairman Sanjay Waghule were present but they were not allowed to take centre stage.