THE man arrested on charges of attacking a lawyer representing petitioners challenging the Maharashtra government’s new law to provide reservation in jobs for the Maratha community had participated in several Maratha rallies through 2016 and 2017, and is unemployed despite having a bachelor’s degree.
Vaijanath Mukane (32), a native of drought-hit Jalna in Marathwada, was arrested by the Azad Maidan police late Monday night for allegedly attacking advocate Gunaratan Sadavarte outside the Bombay High Court. He was given bail on a surety of Rs 15,000 by the Esplanade court on Tuesday.
Sadavarte is representing a petitioner who has challenged the state’s decision to grant reservation to Marathas through a law passed by the state legislature last month. The alleged attack on Sadavarte took place when he was addressing journalists outside the court after a hearing on Monday.
Battle in court, outside of it
THE conveners of the Maratha Kranti Morcha have said petitioners challenging reservation for Marathas are trying to create unrest by making statements outside the court, and that the issue should be contested only in court. However, Morcha leaders themselves have actively supported the activist from Jalna who was detained for assaulting a petitioner’s lawyer outside Bombay High Court on Monday. The petitioners have claimed they are being threatened by Maratha leaders and youth, who are clearly angry, discontented and desperate to enjoy the fruits of their agitation.
Talking to The Indian Express, Mukane said, “I was not getting a well-paid job in consonance with my education. When I read in the newspaper about a petition being filed against the law for Maratha reservation, I came to Mumbai on Sunday and stayed at a friend’s house in Girgaum. On Monday, I went to court to attend the proceedings.”
The Maratha Kranti Morcha, which helped him with bail formalities, said he was angered by what he saw as an attempt to stall the implementation of the law. “The first thing Sadavarte did was to come out and start talking to mediapersons against the reservation for the Maratha community. Mukane was present at the spot, and when he heard the lawyer talking against the community, he got agitated,” said Sanjiv Bhor Patil, convener of the Maratha Kranti Morcha.
Ten years ago, Mukane, a landless Maratha from Murama village in Jalna’s Ghansawangi taluka, completed his Bachelor of Arts from a local college. Since then, he has been struggling to get a job, his family members told The Indian Express. “He has worked for the welfare of the Maratha community for 13 years. He participated in every morcha because he was earlier working with the Chhawa Sanghatna. After working with them for 10 years, he was with the Sambhaji Brigade for three years. Simultaneously, in order to feed his family, he worked as a farm labourer,” said Mukane’s brother-in-law Sambhaji Jangle, who is also currently in Mumbai.
Mukane has participated in several rallies for Maratha reservation, including at Azad Maidan and in Jalna. The Maratha Kranti Morcha staged 58 silent protests between 2016 and 2017, seeking reservation in jobs and educational institutions.
His job hunt took him to Pune five months ago, while his parents, wife and two children (a nine-year-old boy and seven-year-old girl) stayed back in their native village.
“He worked as a marketing executive for three months in Pune but lost the job a month ago. Subsequently, he shifted his family to Pune 20 days ago,” said his brother-in-law.
“He was happy when the Maharashtra government passed the law giving 16 per cent reservation to the Maratha community. He thought he could now find a well-paid job. He felt frustrated that the advocate was challenging that decision,” added Jangle.
Other activists from the Maratha community were also present in court during Mukane’s bail hearing. They alleged Mukane was assaulted by a group of advocates. “After assaulting him, Mukane was handed over to the police personnel posted near the HC. He was taken to the Azad Maidan police station and detained for hours,” claimed an activist.
Following the incident on Monday, Sadavarte returned to the courtroom and informed the bench of Chief Justice Naresh H Patil and Justice M S Karnik that he was assaulted and received multiple threat calls. The court then granted police protection to Sadavarte.