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Jail bharo in Mumbai flops after Maratha stir splinters into chaos

The divisions within the Maratha community have been more and more evident in the recent past

mumbai Updated: Aug 02, 2018 12:24 IST
Surendra P Gangan
Surendra P Gangan
Hindustan Times
Maratha stir,Maratha protests,Mumbai
Barely 40 people participated at a protest at Azad Maidan, on August 1.(Kunal Patil/HT Photo)

The lack of coordination and absence of central leadership in the Maratha agitation became evident on Wednesday when barely 40 people showed up at Mumbai’s Azad Maidan to take part in the protests.

The divisions within the Maratha community have been more and more evident in the recent past. When a few Maratha leaders attended a meeting convened by CM Devendra Fadnavis, there was harsh criticism from a section of the community.

“We did not approve such compromise with the state government. After realising that some of the leaders are joining hands with the government, we launched the jail bharo,” said Amol Jadhavrao, organiser of Wednesday’s protest.

State-level coordinators of the Maratha agitation didn’t approve of either this decision or the sit-in protests that have been taking place since July 18 in Marathwada. However, they admitted that they are not able to exert control over all the Maratha groups that are now staging protests.

“It is true that it is going out of our hand as some groups are stretching it too far. The movement and the Maratha community is fetching bad name due to such violent and uncontrolled protests,” said Shantaram Kunjir, who was a key coordinator of the state level Maratha meeting at Latur on July 29.

Many believe that the silent protests of the past two years have been far more effective, but there are groups within the community that are clamouring for a more aggressive stand. “The announcement of converting of Muk Morcha (silent protests) into Thok Morcha (hit protest) made by one Abasaheb Patil in Tuljapur on June 29 was not approved by the original coordinators. The subsequent violence and suicides by the youths was the result of these aggressive steps and has defamed the community,” said a state level coordinator who did not want to be named.

In Mumbai, Jadhavrao’s jail bharo andolan was held under the banner of Maratha Kranti Morcha at Azad Maidan and proved to be a flop. The 40-odd protestors who had gathered were detained by the police and released within an hour.

Meanwhile, the call for a bandh in Junnar tehsil in Pune district met with tremendous response. School, colleges and shops remained shut and vehicles stayed off road. A group of Marathas also organised a road blockade outside a police station in Pune on Wednesday.

Neither of these protests had the support of state-level coordinators.

Virendra Pawar, one of the coordinators of Maratha Kranti Morcha, admitted the protests lacked coordination. “We could not participate in jail bharo on Wednesday as we were busy in meetings with the lawyers discussing strategy about the cases against the protestors. It is true that some groups are resorting to the protests which were not part of our plan,” he said.

However, as chaotic as the state of the Maratha agitation may be, none of the political parties are willing to take the community’s demands lightly. Fadnavis has called a meeting of legislators, lawyers, authors and other eminent cultural figures on Thursday to discuss the Maratha protests. A senior official said that the chief minister hoped that by reaching out in this way, there would be a breakthrough since protesters have refused to hold talks with the government. Leaders of Shiv Sena as Congress and Nationalist Congress Party, have already held meetings with their legislators to discuss how the parties will support the demands of the Maratha community.

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First Published: Aug 02, 2018 00:51 IST