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SIT to probe Jarange's remarks against Fadnavis

February 27, 2024 15:40 IST

Maharashtra assembly speaker Rahul Narwekar on Tuesday directed the government to set up an SIT and conduct a comprehensive inquiry into the controversial remarks of Maratha quota activist Manoj Jarange against Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.

IMAGE: Manoj Jarange alleged that Maharashtra deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis was trying to kill him. Photograph: ANI Photo

The assembly also witnessed a brief adjournment after the ruling alliance members pointed to remarks of Jarange and alleged there was a conspiracy to create unrest in the state.

The ruling side members stood up, demanding action against those inciting violence.

Narwekar then adjourned the House for five minutes.

When the House resumed, the speaker directed the government to set up a special investigation team (SIT) to conduct a comprehensive inquiry into Jarange's remarks against Fadnavis.

Speaking in Antarwali Sarati village in Jalna district on Sunday, Jarange alleged Fadnavis was trying to kill him. The activist also said he would march to Mumbai and protest outside the residence of the deputy CM.

Jarange had also claimed that a poisoning attempt was made against him through saline, though he did not elaborate on it.


Meanwhile, Jarange said if an SIT is being set up to investigate him, the inquiry should be thorough and asserted that despite the probe, he will be untainted.

Jarange also demanded an inquiry into who ordered the lathi-charge on Maratha protestors at Antarwali Sarati in Jalna district in August, last year.

Speaking to reporters, Jarange said, "If they (BJP) want to return to power, they have to trap me in something. No matter where they take me, I have nobody's (political) backing or financial support. My caste is my idol. It doesn't matter what inquiry is conducted, I will remain untainted."

Jarange, who withdrew his 17-days-long fast on Monday, is undergoing treatment at a private hospital at Chhatrapati Sambhajinagar.

Demanding a thorough inquiry, Jarange said, "They should also probe the violence that took place at Antarwali Sarati village last year and who attacked first. They should investigate who ordered the lathi-charge on protestors."

"If they want to put me in jail, six crore Marathas will follow me," Jarange said.

The issue was raised by Bharatiya Janata Party MLA Ashish Shelar in the Lower House. He said provocative language to incite violence has no place in democracy.

He demanded to know who was behind Jarange's actions, aimed at creating "unrest" in the state by saying Maharashtra will be "burnt down."

Shelar alleged there was a conspiracy to unsettle Maharashtra and malign the Maratha community, known to be brave and disciplined.

"We have been supporting Jarange's demands but are critical of his threatening remarks against Fadnavis," he said.

Speaker Narwekar instructed the government to make a detailed inquiry by setting up the SIT.

Fadnavis said in the House that he has no complaints against Jarange. The SIT will investigate whose "script" he is speaking, the deputy CM said.

"Jarange may have made wild allegations against me, but the entire Maratha community supports me," he said.

"Will find out who is the mastermind. Burning down of MLAs' homes is also not right. A probe will enable to find out who are the real culprits," he said.

Leader of Opposition Vijay Wadettiwar said they do not support Jarange's comments but there is a need to go to the root cause of the issue.

The use of police force was not required (during Jarange's agitation over quota issue last year), he said, adding the government must act against those who make provocative comments.

Congress Legislature Party leader Balasaheb Thorat said the opposition side was nowhere in the picture during discussions between the government and Jarange.

The government was communicating with Jarange and the 'gulal' of victory was sprinkled in Navi Mumbai (after the government issued a draft notification last month on 'blood relatives' of Kunbi Marathas), he said.

After that, the agitation began once again. The government did not engage with the opposition for a discussion on the issue, Thorat said.

"We don't support violence and use of provocative language but we should understand why we have come to this kind of a situation," Thorat added.

On Monday, Jarange announced he is withdrawing his 17-day-old fast undertaken over the Maratha quota issue, but insisted he would continue his agitation until the Maharashtra government starts issuing Kunbi caste certificates to extended family members of people already having such documents, thereby allowing them to avail reservation benefits.

The decision by Jarange, who has launched fast multiple times since August 2023, came a day after he announced a march to Mumbai to press for his demands related to quota in jobs and education for the Maratha community and coincided with the start of the state legislature's budget session in Mumbai.

At a special session last week, the state legislature unanimously passed a bill providing 10 per cent separate reservation for the Maratha community in education and government jobs.

Jarange, however, insisted on quota for the Marathas under the Other Backward Classes (OBC) category and had continued his fast.

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