The protest organised by the Maratha community was finally called off after Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis assured to look into the demands made by them. Fadnavis has announced that a sub-committee will be formed to address the grievances of Maratha community. He also added that the Maratha community will be offered those benefits which are currently availed by the OBC community. A committee headed by Chandrakant Patil will review the demands of reservations. Thus a question which arises here is will the government fulfil the promises made by it or is it just an eyewash to tone down the protests of Maratha community for the time being? It takes several months for the committee to study about the backwardness of Maratha community and submit a report to the government. Thus is the government trying to buy time to pacify Marathas?
Marathas constitute 33 per cent of Maharashtra’s population and are hence a dominant political force. They have been hitting the streets through silent rallies for the past year across different parts of the state. Beyond Mumbai and other cities, people from the community are engaged in agriculture. For the past two decades, agriculture has been become less profitable for the farmers and that has had a direct impact on the Marathas. The protest march organisers, Sakal Maratha Samaj, an umbrella outfit of Maratha community groups, have been insisting that they are not allowing any political parties or leaders to hijack the protests and all politicians are free to join the morchas as common participants.
A member of the organising committee, Nanasaheb Patil said, “There were no slogan-shouting and we all marched silently and peacefully. The government always assures us something but they fail to implement, we will be on the streets time and again if our voices are not heard and justice not delivered”
The community also started protesting after the gangrape and murder of a Maratha girl in Koparadi village last year in July. They initially demanded death penalty for the accused. Subsequently protests were held across Maharashtra include demands regarding amendments to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act to stop its “misuse” to protect them from discrimination. Demands for reservation in educational institutions and government jobs were also made by the members from the community.
Hardik Patel, a social and political activist who participated in the Patidar reservation agitation said, “I render all my support to Maratha Kranti Morcha. Lots of discrimination has been meted against these communities in spite of having constitutional rights.”
Maharashtra revenue minister Chandrakant Patil spoke to Afternoon Voice and said, “The government is in talks with the Centre to provide assured support prices to the agricultural produce. I have appealed to the leaders of Maratha community to discuss their issues with the government. The government has taken decisions on most of their demands. We have revised eligibility for economically backward class for the benefit of students by raising annual family income ceiling to Rs. 6 lakh from Rs. 5 lakh.”
Amit V. Deshmukh, son of former CM Late Vilasrao Deshmukh’s son and a Congress leader urged the Government of Maharashtra and the authorities to ensure the wellbeing and safety of each participant in rally of Mumbai.
Taxi union leader A L Quadros said, “I have appealed to all my “Kali-Peeli” drivers to be on the roads and support the commuters. We have tried our level best to make smooth travel for Mumbaikars.”
Children were leading the morcha, followed by women and then men. As many as 50 children of farmers who committed suicide arrived in Mumbai from Trimbakeshwar in Nashik.