Marathas to begin relay hunger strike in Pune from Monday
To maintain the pressure on the state government over their demands, including reservations in jobs and education, the Marathas have announced an indefinite relay hunger strike from Monday in Pune, in addition to the ongoing sit-in protests in various districts. The community has issued a code of conduct to prevent violence during protests.
In a relay hunger strike, a section of protesters sit on strike for a specific time (in this case for eight hours) and are replaced by another section to carry it forward.
District units of the Maratha Kranti Morcha, the umbrella body of various Maratha organisations, have continued their sit-in protest in Parbhani, Hingoli, Kolhapur and Ahmednagar in central and western Maharashtra for more than one month. The Pune district unit has announced that it would hold relay hunger strike outside the office of the divisional commissioner.
In the wake of the July-August violence erupted during the statewide protests by the community, the co-ordinators have taken due care by issuing a code of conduct as a precaution. “We expect about 50-60 protesters to be part of the relay hunger strike between 10am and 6pm. It will be a new batch of identified participants with their phone name, number and address. The code of conduct prohibits any loud and instigating speeches, sloganeering and solicitation of any political party. Protesters have been directed to not resort to any violence,” said Shantaram Kunjir, one of the coordinators.
He said community members had take various measures to keep the momentum built over the past two years.
Protesters said the agitation would be withdrawn once they got a written assurance from the district authorities to fulfil their demands. The sit-in protests at Parali in Beed and Aurangabad were withdrawn after similar assurances from the district authorities.
Besides the reservation in jobs and education, the community has been demanding scholarships in professional courses, revision of the SC/ST Act, hostels for the community students in every district, funding for the new business units started by the community youths, among others.