Maratha reservation agitation completes two years

Maratha reservation agitation completes two years

A sea of humanity poured in at Azad Maidan in South Mumbai to demand among other things reservations for the community. DH Photo

What started as a rally in Aurangabad exactly two years ago has now turned out to be one of the biggest movements of Maharashtra. Not only had the demand for reservation to the politically-strong Maratha community has shaken Maharashtra, it has now become a cause of concern for the Centre.

To protest against the rape-murder of a Maratha girl in Kopardi in Ahmednagar district, on August 9, 2016, the first Maratha Kranti Morcha  - under the umbrella of Sakal Maratha Samaj - was held in Aurangabad. 

In fact,  August 9 coincides with the anniversary of the Quit India movement spearheaded by Mahatma Gandhi.

The three key demands were a death sentence for the accused in the Kopardi case, reservation to Maratha in jobs and education and amendments to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 – popularly known as the Atrocities Act – which the community feels is often misused against them.

The Marathas account for 32-35 per cent of Maharashtra’s population – and quite a significant percentage of this is economically and financially weaker. The Maratha caste can be compared with Jats in Rajasthan and Haryana or Patidar-Patels in Gujarat, primarily farmers – and the latter too are also pressing for reservation.

To mark the one year of the agitation, on August 9, 2017, the Maratha community held a massive morcha at the historic Azad Maidan in Mumbai, the 58th such gathering.  All these morchas were peaceful, there were no rallies, and there was no specific leader.

Now, to mark the two years of the agitation, on August 9, 2018, agitation would be held across the state. While in some districts, there would be bandh, in some places, there would be sit-ins by the community.

Last fortnight has seen violent protests across Maharashtra on the issue of Maratha reservation – and half a dozen youths have committed suicide in support of the long-pending demand.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has to defer the recruitment drive of 72,000 vacancies – till the Maratha community gets reservation.

As of now, technically the issue is before the Bombay High Court which is awaiting a report from the Maharashtra State Backward Classes Commission.

“We have been waiting for two years now. For one year, 58 morchas were held, all were peaceful. In the last two weeks, anti-social elements have created trouble. Our agitation is very clear, it has to be peaceful and no one should be disturbed,” said a senior functionary of the Maratha Kranti Morcha.

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