Maratha quota activist Manoj Jarange along with thousands of others on Saturday embarked on a protest march from Maharashtra’s Jalna district to Mumbai to draw the state government’s attention to the demand for reservation to his community.
Speaking to reporters before beginning the march, Jarange lambasted the government for its ”cruel and insensitive” attitude and failure to resolve the Maratha reservation issue, and vowed to continue the fight till his last breath. The protest march began from Jarange’s native Antarwali Sarati village around 11 am. ”The Maratha community gave seven months to the government to provide reservation, but no action was taken all this while,” he told reporters. ”I will continue the protest till my last breath. I won’t relent till the demand for reservation is met,” said an emotional Jarange. He slammed the state government and ministers as he cited the ”alarming rise” in suicide by Maratha youths.
”Maratha youths are ending their lives over the issue of reservation, but the government remains unmoved. How can the government be so insensitive and cruel and just watch Maratha youths commit suicides?” he asked. He narrated an incident wherein a man from the Maratha community hailing from Paithan in Chhatrapati Sambhajinagar district told him that his only son ended life for the cause of reservation.
Jarange said he would consult with the community members whether to start fasting on the way to Mumbai or after reaching the Maharashtra capital.
The protest march led by Jarange is likely to reach Mumbai on January 25. The distance between Antarwali Sarati village and Mumbai is more than 400 kms. Thousands of members from the Maratha community are accompanying Jarange during the protest. The protesters will walk for a few hours everyday and also use vehicles. From January 26, Jarange is scheduled to begin his hunger strike over the quota issue.