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Rediff.com  » News » Fadnavis announces sops as Marathas stage massive show in Mumbai for quotas

Fadnavis announces sops as Marathas stage massive show in Mumbai for quotas

Last updated on: August 10, 2017 00:12 IST

Holding aloft saffron flags, lakhs of Maratha community members on Wednesday filled Mumbai's streets as they took their battle for reservation in government jobs and education to the Maharashtra capital, throwing traffic haywire and putting the overburdened suburban railway under severe strain.

IMAGE: Maratha community people holding a silent protest in Mumbai on Wednesday, to demand reservation in government jobs and educational institutions. Photograph: Santosh Hirlekar/PTI Photo

The metropolis turned into a sea of saffron as members of the politically influential community from different parts of the state converged in Mumbai to press for reservation in government jobs and education among other demands.

The Marathas took out a silent march from Jijamata Udyan in Byculla to Azad Maidan in South Mumbai.

IMAGE: A sea of orange at Azad Maidan. Thousands and thousands of supporters of the Maratha march gather to make their demands. Photograph: Sahil Salvi/Rediff.com

As the agitators assembled at Azad Maidan, Mumbai's protest hotpsot, a few kilometres away, in Vidhan Bhawan, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis announced his government would extend to the Maratha community the educational concessions currently given to Other Backward Class.

Fadnavis also told the state legislative council that the issue of Maratha reservation has been referred to the Backward Classes Commission (BCC), which shall study the feasibility of granting the quota to the community.

Fadnavis, while speaking in the upper house of the Maharashtra legislature, also said the government has submitted a detailed affidavit with concrete supporting documents and fielded a battery of best lawyers to argue the case on the Maratha quota issue pending before the court.

"The demand of the Maratha community for reservation has been referred to the Backward Classes Commission (BCC) which shall study the feasibility of granting the quota to the community. It has been asked to expedite the matter at the earliest," he said.

IMAGE: According to police, around 3 lakh people took part in the protest march. 
Photograph: Shashank Parad/PTI Photo

He also said the BJP-led government would form a cabinet sub-committee to review the implementation of various welfare schemes meant for the Maratha community, but stopped short of announcing quotas for them in jobs.

The announcements were made after Fadnavis held a meeting with representatives of the Maratha community, whose demands have received support from almost the entire political spectrum in the state.

IMAGE: Marathas on their way to Azad Maidan at CST station. Photograph: Sahil Salvi/Rediff.com

A delegation of 40 people, including women, met him at the Vidhan Bhawan this afternoon. The legislature is currently having its monsoon session.

Earlier on Wednesday morning, the Marathas took out their silent march from Jijamata Udyan amid tight security with participants wearing saffron caps and carrying saffron swallowtail flags.

Police and traffic personnel were deployed in large numbers to manage the huge inflow of people and the movement of vehicles in Mumbai.

Mumbai's famed 'Dabbawalas' (lunchbox deliverymen), majority of whom hail from the Maratha community, also joined the march.

IMAGE: The rally began from Byculla and culminated at Azad Maidan. 
Photograph: Sahil Salvi/Rediff.com

This was the 58th march of the community and was held exactly a year after the first such protest in Aurangabad. The march was organised by the Sakal Maratha Samaj, an umbrella organisation of several Maratha groups.

According to police, around 3 lakh people took part in the protest march.

These 'mook morcha', or silent rallies, were held in various parts of the state following the brutal rape and murder of a 14-year-old girl, belonging to the Maratha community, at Kopardi village in Ahmednagar district in July 2016.

IMAGE: A sea of Maratha supporters make their way to Azad Maidan from Byculla on the JJ Flyover.
Photograph: Sahil Salvi/Rediff.com

The rally ended at Azad Maidan after covering a distance of 10km. At the venue, the campaigners raised slogans as Mumbai BJP chief Ashish Shelar reached the site. Some said they don't want politicians to interfere.

Shelar rubbished reports he was stopped and manhandled at Azad Maidan.

In the legislature, lawmakers cutting across party lines shouted slogans demanding quota for the Marathas.

Social media platforms like Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter were used to mobilise the community members, the organisers said.

See more glimpses of the Maratha rally: 

(Click next to view more images) 

IMAGE: The Maratha morcha is being supported by politicians -- including the Shiv Sena and the Congress. Photograph: Sahil Salvi/Rediff.com

Quotas for Marathas, a politically influential community that constitutes around 30 per cent of the state's population, has been a hugely contentious issue.

The Bombay high court had in 2014 disallowed 16 per cent reservation for them in government services and educational institutions.

In 2003-04, National Commission for Backward Classes rejected the demand for including Maratha community in the category of Other Backward Class (OBC) category.

 

IMAGE: For those who have to step out to south Mumbai, the police have issued an advisory and the roads to avoid. Photograph: @MumbaiPolice/Twitter
(Please click on the image for a clearer version of the routes to avoid)

Earlier, 1980 Mandal Commission had noted that the Maratha community is a forward class in Maharashtra.

The Maharashtra State Backward Class Commission had held in 2008 that 'Marathas are both economically and politically a forward caste. They never faced social stigma to invite the backward class status'.

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