With inputs from Mumbai bureau
The Maratha Kranti Morcha has taken out its “biggest” silent protest in Mumbai on Wednesday. After 57 marches across the state last year, the protest demanding reservation in jobs, has started from Jijamata Udyan in Byculla and is expected to culminate at Azad Maidan by 5 pm. With more than three lakh people coming to join the morcha and thousands of vehicles that have already arrived in Mumbai from different parts of the state, the silent rally may bring the Maximum City to a standstill.
The administration and police officials have, however, assured citizens that adequate measures have been taken in order to avoid any inconvenience to those travelling to and from the rally route. Mumbai Police has, however, advised Mumbaikars to avoid taking the route towards South Mumbai.
Here are the highlights from today’s march:
4.50 pm: Speaking in the Maharashtra Assembly, Fadnavis announced land and grant of Rs 5 crore to build hostels for students from Maratha community in every district.
4.10 pm: Fadnavis said the Kopardi case trial is being fast tracked and the government is pushing for the highest punishment for the perpetrators.
4.00 pm: After meeting the Maratha morcha delegation at Vidhan Bhawan, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said his government is committed to granting reservation for the community and the State Backward Commission has been asked to submit a detailed report on the issue. This will help to expedite and press the reservation demand in court, Fadnavis said.
He added that 605 new educational courses have been included under the state-sponsored scholarship schemes to provide financial support to students belonging to the Maratha community.
3.15 pm: “My little sister in 2nd standard can understand reservation issue. But it is taking three years for government to study and understand it. Now we have started doubting their studies on the issue. We need to check from which tutor they are taking classes for these studies,” said another girl in her speech.
3.10 pm: The Maratha morcha delegation met Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. Leaders from across party lines were also present.
3.02 pm: So far, thirteen girls have given speeches at the Azad Maidan. All of them said they will leave only after a decision is taken by the state government on their demands. They have also threatened to hold the next morcha in Delhi if no decision is taken today.
2:44 pm: Eknath Shinde, from Shiv Sena extended his support to the protest. The party MLAs raised slogans on the steps of the Vidhan Bhavan. Shinde was quoted by PTI saying, “We completely support the demands of the Maratha community. A large section of the community is deprived of education, good income sources and skills that would get them good jobs. Reservation in education and jobs could be one way of supporting them. The other demands, such as strict action against those who had allegedly sexually assaulted the girl and murdered her, will be given the required support.”
2:40 pm: In an interaction with PTI, BJP chief Ashish Shelar denied reports that he was stopped and manhandled at Azad Maidan.
2:35 pm: Mumbai’s famed ‘Dabbawalas’ (lunchbox deliverymen), majority of whom hail from the Maratha community, also joined the march.
2:20 pm: Around 1500 people have been treated since morning for headache, body pain, acidity and for dehydration at the CST health post.
2:07 pm: A young boy dressed up as Shivaji in the group leading the morcha was rushed to medical help centre by cops after he fell ill.
1: 57 pm: Approximately 10,000 doctors from adjoining parts of Maharashtra including Satara, Vidarbha, Nashik, kolhapur, marathwada have joined the rally. Indian Medical Association has also said that 30 per cent of their doctors are extending their support to the morcha. Many doctors from Mumbai government hospitals are also on leave today to participate in the protest.
1:28 PM: Around 30 patients are being attended by doctors at a medical camp set up at J.J site. While there is no emergency that is reported as of now, there are speculations of the protesters suffering from dehydration.
1:05 pm: The Mumbai police has used drones, CCTV network, traffic diversions, technical surveillance and watchers to ensure that there is no violation of any law during the protest. Security at railway stations and MSRTC nodal stops has been stepped up in the wake of the number of people reaching the city to participate in the rally. The police is also keeping a close check on social media platforms to ensure that no such messages are created that can incite the protesters to be violent.
12:35 pm: The Maratha leaders have also asked all the political party representatives to stay away from the rally. Earlier during the day, BJP Mumbai chief Ashish Shelar was reportedly asked to leave Azad Maidan by the organisers of the Maratha Kranti Morcha.
In pictures: Lakhs attend Maratha Morcha rally in Mumbai, bring city to standstill. Click here
12:30 pm: The leaders from Maratha community have also warned that today’s rally is going to be the “last mook morcha.” In case the state authorities choose not to act on their demands of reservation in jobs and educational institutes, the community will move on to an “aggressive agitation.” They have also warned of measures such as preventing ministers from visiting their constituencies and holding demonstrations before Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.
The Maratha leaders said they would wait for at least two weeks or so after the 58th march “for the government to take some kind of action on their demands”. “If there is no action, then the coordination committee will meet and decide about the way we are going to carry out our aggressive agitation,” Shantaram Kunjir, a Maratha leader said to Indian Express.
Read: Last silent Maratha march today, leaders warn of aggressive stir if CM Devendra Fadnavis fails to act. Click here
— ANI (@ANI) August 9, 2017
JJ flyover in Mumbai, connecting south central Mumbai to the commercial districts of Fort and Nariman Point in south Mumbai, is filled with swarm of protesters. Lakhs of members of the Maratha community, a powerful agrarian community, are staging their 58th and final ‘muk morcha’ or silent protest in Mumbai, at the end of a year long series of such protest marches across the state. Mumbai police has anticipated about 5 lakh protesters in Mumbai today.
12:02 pm: The rally has resulted in a huge traffic jam in Matunga. The road from Aurora talkies to Wadala is congested and the traffic is being diverted away from Ambedkar road
11:53 am: There is a huge amount of staff that is present at Azad Maidan. Doctors from various hospitals including Gokuldas Tejpal Hospita, JJ Hospital, Cooper are present at the venue. BMC has also appointed 4 doctors to help the participants. A pharmacist, a dresser and four ambulances are kept ready at the site.
11:42 am: The rally which began at Byculla will take the JJ flyover to reach its last destination Azad Maidan. The flyover has been closed by the police and no vehicular movement is allowed on the road. Police is present all along the route in order to ensure the smooth flow of rally.
11:38 am: A huge number of protesters have come out on roads to Mumbai to extend their support to the demands of Maratha community.
11:32 am: The Vidhan Sabha has also been adjourned. MLAs from Shiv Sena also staged a protest outside Maharashtra Assembly extending their support to the community and their demands.
Mumbai: Shiv Sena MLAs protest outside Maharashtra Assembly demanding reservation for Maratha community pic.twitter.com/6A4Dxrxzdu
— ANI (@ANI) August 9, 2017
11:15 am: The protesters have begun their march from Byculla in Mumbai.
11:08 am: BJP Mumbai chief Ashish Shelar has been reportedly asked to leave Azad Maidan by the organisers of the Maratha Kranti Morcha. The participants have also pulled down the hoardings of various political parties.
11:01 am: The protests carried out by the community are usually ‘mook morchas’ (silent protests) and their code of conduct emphasises on avoiding sloganeering. The participants have however resorted to shouting slogans of “Jai Bhavani..Jai Shivaji and Ek Maratha …Lakh Maratha” in trains and along the way at Byculla.
10:59 am: BMC has also installed one mobile toilet at CST station near platform 10 for people coming for the protests from other parts of the state. Six water tankers carrying 5000 litres of drinking water each have been made available around Azad Maidan.
10:50 am: Traffic is smooth across the city except the morcha route. There is slight congestion on Eastern Express Way. Vehicular movement along Western Express Highway and Eastern Express Highway is smooth
10:35 am: For the convenience of the participants, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has set up mobile toilets across 6 locations around Azad Maidan. All pay and use toilets present around the venue will carry no usage cost today.
10:32 am: Many Ganesh mandals, Dahi Handi mandals, Mumbai Dabbawala Association, Marath Medico Association and few other organisations have extended their support to the morcha Virendra Pawar, member of the organising committee said to Indian Express.
10:26 am: To avoid difficulties for Mumbaikars, taxi union leader A L Quadros has appealed to kaali peeli drivers to be on road. The drivers are advised to avoid roads close to Morcha route in the morning hours, otherwise they might be stuck for a long time. Cabs are plying in suburbs otherwise.
10:24 am: This is the 58th protest carried out by the community. In order to avoid traffic issues, JJ flyover has been closed in view of the rally.
10:18 am: The traffic has been blocked along eastern freeway all the way to Wadala. Traffic is being diverted off Dr Ambedkar road from Matunga, towards eastern freeway and towards Mahim-Prabhadevi.
10:15 am: Medical teams along with professional doctors are present at the venue. Traffic management volunteers are also stationed in order to avoid any untoward incident.
10:13 am: Volunteers along the way are providing morning breakfast, tea and water to every participant in the march.
10:10 am: Former Congress CMS Ashok Chavan , Narayan Rane , Prithviraj Chavan, Opposition leaders Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil, NCP’S Ajit Pawar, Jayant Patil will be among the ones who are participating.
10:04 am: BJP Mumbai chief Ashish Shelar reaches Azad Maidan.
10:00 am: All Maratha legislatures across parties will participate in the protest. They will march to Azad Maidan along with community followers.
9.42 am: A Shiv Sena leader said the party has asked its legislators to take part in the morcha. Sena legislators from Mumbai and some of the state ministers are likely to join the morcha at Byculla at around 10.30 am, sources have told the Indian Express.
9.40 am: So far, around 40,000 people have gathered in Byculla where the rally is going to start from, Mumbai Police sources have told Indian Express. MSRDC Minister Eknath Shinde had announced that there will be no toll on roads leading towards Mumbai to avoid traffic issue today.
9.35 am: There are reports of very slow traffic at the southern end of the eastern freeway, where several thousand buses are being parked on a vacant plot. Road from Carnac Bunder to Indira docks clogged. There’s also a traffic pile up at Vashi toll collection point.
9.30 am: Meanwhile, the government has announced that all schools and junior colleges in South Mumbai will remain shut today. That’s about 450 institutes across town. The announcement was made by Education Minister Vinod Tawde in the Assembly, following which a circular was issued by the deputy director of school education, Mumbai. Moreover, Mumbai’s famed dabbawallas will also take the day off and participate in the morcha. Read more about it here.
9.20 am: Here’s a quick look at the routes you should avoid if you are travelling to South Mumbai today. You really don’t want to get stuck in a traffic jam that could well leave you stranded for hours
9 am: The protest that is happening in Mumbai on Wednesday is by the Maratha community who who constitute 33 per cent of Maharashtra’s population and are hence a dominant political force. They have been hitting the streets through silent rallies for the past year across different parts of the state. Before we begin, here is a brief recap of the events that led to the protest today.
The community started protesting after the gangrape and murder of a Maratha girl in Koparadi village last year in July. They initially demanded death penalty for the accused. Subsequently protests were held across Maharashtra include demands regarding amendments to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act to stop its “misuse” to protect them from discrimination. Demands for reservation in educational institutions and government jobs were also made by the members from the community.