Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Sunday assured partial withdrawal of police cases filed against the Maratha youths for vandalising properties during recent protests for the quota demand. “However, the criminal charges like assaulting police officials will not be withdrawn,” the chief minister said.
The announcement came after Fadnavis held a meeting with BJP’s Rajya Sabha MP Narayan Rane and his MLA son Nitesh Rane, along with some leaders of the Maratha community who are pro-reservation. However, the names of the pro-reservation groups were not revealed by the state government. These groups had organised a bandh in Mumbai region and some parts of Maharashtra last week which had turned violent, with the incidents of arson reported from various cities.
Sunday’s meeting was held in the wake of the Maratha bodies demanding withdrawal of the criminal cases registered against the protesters who had organised the shutdowns. “The criminal charges involving attacks on police will not be withdrawn but others will be taken back. The community needs to resort to peace,” the chief minister said.
When asked about the date on which the State Backward Class Commission will submit its report to the government, Fadnavis said, “The report will be submitted within a month. Once it is received, we will discuss in the special session of the state legislature and take further action”. He said the BJP government is supporting the expectations of the Maratha community on quota demand. “We will also ensure that no injustice is done (to Marathas) during the ongoing mega recruitment drive of the state government,” the chief minister said.
The commission is currently conducting a survey on the socio-economic backwardness of the Marathas who have been demanding 16 percent reservation in government jobs and education. Under the recruitment drive, the government has advertised 72,000 posts to be filled up for various departments. Meanwhile, the Maratha leaders who have been steering the quota stir for the last two years have distanced themselves from Sunday’s meeting.
“None of us who participated in the bandh was present at the meeting with the chief minister. Our primary demand is of reservation in education and government jobs, and we don’t want to lose our focus from it,” said Virendra Pawar, one of the leaders of the Maratha Kranti Morcha (MKM), an umbrella organisation of various pro-quota groups.
Meanwhile, Shiv Sena and Congress have called for separate meetings in Mumbai on Monday to discuss the issues related to Maratha reservation. The Maratha community has been demanding quota under the OBC category. The community had held violent protests across the state last week for this demand.