Maratha outfits call for state bandh after protestor kills self
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Maratha outfits call for state bandh after protestor kills self

Kakasaheb Shinde staged his protest by jumping into the Godavari river, near Gangakhed in Aurangabad.

mumbai Updated: Jul 24, 2018 00:59 IST
Surendra P Gangan
Surendra P Gangan
Hindustan Times
Maratha protests,Mumbai,maharashtra
A protest by Maratha groups in Mumbai on July 22. (Bhushan Koyande)

Maratha outfits called for a statewide bandh on Tuesday, after a 28-year-old protestor from the community died on Monday during their agitation for reservations in education and government jobs. Kakasaheb Shinde staged his protest by jumping into the Godavari river, near Gangakhed in Aurangabad. He was pulled out and rushed to a local hospital, but was declared dead on arrival.

Shinde was a resident of Kanadgaon village and worked as a driver for Santosh Mane, district chief of Yuva Sena, the youth wing of Shiv Sena. His brother Avinash and other protestors refused to accept his body and demanded a criminal case be registered against CM Devendra Fadnavis.

“Kakasaheb’s death is the example of insensitive government. We are not going to accept the body unless Kakasaheb is given the status of martyr, a compensation of ₹ 10 lakh to his family, and government job to his brother,” said Ravindra Kale, who has been leading the protest at Kranti Chowk in Aurangabad.

“A criminal case should also be registered against the CM and officers responsible for the death. We had given the notice of the jal samadhi protest, despite of which the local administration failed to take precautionary measures,” he said.

The jal Samadhi (water immersion) was announced on Monday by Maratha Kranti Morcha.

Sakal Maratha Samaj, the umbrella body of Maratha community outfits, held a meeting on Monday evening and announced a Maharashtra bandh for Tuesday, to push for the protestors’ demands, which include reservation and immediate stay on government recruitments. Emergency services are excluded and the organisers said the bandh would be observed peacefully.

Chandrakant Patil, revenue minister and head of the committee appointed deal with the Maratha community’s demands, said, “The protest is being held on the wrong information to the Marathas given by people with vested political interests. We have been doing everything possible to fulfill the demands of the community. We have been appealing to the people from Maratha community to maintain peace and cooperate the government in fulfilling their demands.” He said the government is prepared for the shutdown and will ensure no untoward incident takes place.

On Monday, following the news of Shinde’s death, Maratha protestors blocked roads at Ichalkaranji, Sindhudurg, Nashik and burnt an effigy of Fadnavis in Thane.

The demands of the protesting groups include reservations in government jobs and education; a revision of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act; and freeships to economically backward Maratha students. Fadnavis told the Assembly on July 19 that his government had cleared the bill granting 16% reservation for Marathas in education and government jobs, but was awaiting clearance from the Bombay high court. Following threats of disruption from Maratha leaders, Fadnavis cancelled his annual Ashadi Ekadashi trip to Pandharpur.

On Monday, most districts in Marathwada witnessed protest marches, sit-in protests and road blockades by various Maratha organisations. In some areas, there was stone pelting and violence and local police have registered cases against the protesters.

“We have been pushing for our demands in non-violent manners. We have appealed to the community to not resort to the violent means. Our youths are not involved in the stone pelting and damage to government properties. The police at various places are booking Maratha youth to crush our protest,” said Patil, who added that a statewide shutdown was being planned.

State Congress chief Ashok Chavan said the government was trying to depict the Maratha youth as criminal. He appealed to the community to stage peaceful protests. “The government’s callous approach is responsible for the death of Maratha youth. The local administration failed to take note of the warning by the protesters,” said Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Jayant Patil.

Chandrakant Patil denied these allegations. “The local administration had taken due care during jal samadhi protest in Aurangabad on Monday. The protesters had promised to hold notional protest and stage mass arrest,” he said.

There are fears that Shinde’s death will lead to the agitation intensifying further. “There is resentment among the community over the unfulfilled demands and the first death which has taken place today. We have been getting calls from across the state expressing their anger and wish to continue the protest. From tomorrow, the women have resolved to join us by locking their homes. We are firm to continue our protest as it’s a do or die battle for the community,” said Abasaheb Patil, who has been leading the sit-in protest in Parli for last six days.

First Published: Jul 24, 2018 00:59 IST