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ST status: Dhangar community protest march in Mumbai on Aug 1

Members of Dhangar community will hold a protest march here on August 1 in support of their demand to grant Scheduled Tribe status to the community.

The protesters will be dressed in the traditional attire and would come to Mumbai with their goats and sheep to participate in the march, which will begin from Byculla and culminate at Azad Maidan in south Mumbai.

“We have decided to vote for the party which ensures us getting the scheduled tribe status,” Dhangar Samaj Arakshan Kriti Samiti leader Lalit Bandgra told reporters here today.

The Samiti members began their protest at Pandharpur in Solapur district on July 15, culminating at Baramati on July 21. Since then, some members from all over the state have been camping at Baramati.

BJP core committee members – state president Devendra Fadnavis, Leader of Opposition in the Council Vinod Tawade, senior leader Madhav Bhandari and MLA Pankaja Munde Palwe – have visited the protest site to extend their support.

The Dhangar community claims significant presence in 78 of 288 Assembly seats, including Baramati and Madha.

The community 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.

Dhangars in Maharashtra now get reservation benefits under VJNT (Vimukta Jati and Nomadic Tribes), which they say, is not enough.

Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan recently said that the state government will have to consider views of all community leaders before taking a call.

Tribal legislators under the leadership of NCP minister Madhukar Pichad have threatened to resign en masse if the Dhangars were included in the ST category.

“Dhangars are not tribals. If the government includes them under the tribal category we will agitate. The government should not succumb to pressure exerted by the community,” Pichad said.

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