Members of the Dhangar community on Thursday staged a rail blockade at Kurla railway station here demanding Scheduled Tribe status to them, thereby disrupting suburban services.
“It has been our long pending demand to include the Dhangar community into the Scheduled Tribe status. If the government still does not agree to fulfil our demands, we will not support them in the upcoming Assembly elections,” said Dhangar Samaj Arakshan Kriti Samiti President, Madhav Gadade.
He said that the community members “strongly” oppose the Maharashtra cabinet’s decision to recommend to the Centre for the inclusion of the Dhangar community into the Third Schedule.
“We are followers of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar and do not want to be included in the Third schedule. It is our right to be included in the Scheduled Tribe and we will continue fighting for our right,” Gadade said.
Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, had in the state cabinet meet on Wednesday decided to send a recommendation to the Centre to include the Dhangar community into the Third Schedule.
Similar protests were held at other places like Pandharpur, Baramati and Madha.
The community claims a significant presence in 78 of 288 Assembly seats, including Baramati and Madha.
Dhangar community members raised the pitch for ST tag after the government sanctioned 16 per cent reservation for Marathas and 5 per cent for Muslims in government jobs and educational institutions.
Meanwhile, railway officials said that suburban trains running towards Kurla station were affected by the protest and were running late by about 15 minutes.
“Three trains were particularly affected due to the protest at Kurla railway station. Two trains running towards CST and 1 train towards Thane were running late by about 15 minutes. But once the services resumed, trains were back on time,” Anil Kumar Jain, Senior PRO, Central Railway said.