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Maratha protester demanding reservation jumps to death in Godavari

Kakasaheb Shinde’s death triggered a fresh set of protests in several parts of Maharashtra, with protesters blocking the Ahmednagar-Aurangabad highway and damaging a dozen vehicles, including a police van and a bus.

mumbai Updated: Jul 23, 2018 21:53 IST
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India
Maratha community members block the road during a protest against the government demanding reservation, in Solapur.(PTI)

The agitation by the Maratha community for reservation in government jobs and education took a tragic turn on Monday after a 27-year-old protester jumped to his death in Godavari river near Aurangabad.

Kakasaheb Shinde, a resident of Kaygaon village in Aurangabad district, jumped off a bridge over Godavari river, police said. He was rushed to a nearby hospital where he was declared dead, they said.

The incident came a day after Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis said he was cancelling his visit, scheduled on Monday, to a temple in Pandharpur after protesting Maratha outfits threatened to disrupt the event.

Shinde’s death triggered a fresh set of protests in several parts of Maharashtra, with opposition leaders seeking to put the onus on the BJP-led government in the state. Protesters blocked the Ahmednagar-Aurangabad highway and damaged a dozen vehicles, including a police van and a bus, in Gangakhed tehsil of Parbhani district.

They refused to take possession of Shinde’s body and demanded Fadnavis’ resignation. They held a sit-in protest at Gangapur police station in Aurangabad district, demanding that a criminal case be filed against the CM over Shinde’s death.

Seeking immediate announcement of reservations for the Maratha community, the protesters also sought a compensation of Rs 50 lakh for Shinde’s family.

The Maratha Kranti Morcha, which led Monday’s ‘jal samadhi’ protest in which Shinde died, is leading the agitation seeking reservations for the community. In the last few days, protests have take place in Buldhana, Akola, Parali, Washim and even in Mumbai.

Congress MLA Nitesh Rane blamed the Fadnavis government for the death, while NCP leader Sunil Tatkare said Shinde’s death should help serve as a warning to all concerned to handle the stir with caution. BJP’s Rajya Sabha member Sambhaji Chhatrapati said, “The issue of Maratha reservations is of utmost importance. The CM should not ignore it.”

“The Fadnavis-led government is engaged in an attempt to paint the protesting Maratha community members as criminals and this attempt is infuriating,” Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee president Ashok Chavan said.

Community leaders had earlier taken out several rallies in various districts to highlight their demands. Last year, a huge rally was organised by the Maratha Kranti Morcha in Mumbai. Despite assurances from Fadnavis to fulfil the demands, nothing concrete has been done till now, community leaders have claimed.

First Published: Jul 23, 2018 21:53 IST