Describing the bandh as “100 per cent successful and spontaneous”, leaders of the Maratha Kranti Morcha on Thursday asked the state government to take serious note of the agitation, keep its word and take necessary steps to resolve the demands raised by the aggrieved Maratha community.
While expressing regret over the violent incidents during Thursday’s bandh, the Maratha leaders said it only reflected the anger among the younger generation, “which will continue to simmer” till the government takes decisive action on their demands.
“It was an unprecedented and cent per cent successful bandh. The Maratha community did not use any force… people closed shops and business establishments on their own. It was a spontaneous bandh. This exemplifies that the Maratha community has the support of people from all sections for the demands raised by them,” said Vinod Patil, one of the coordinators of the Maratha Kranti Morcha. Patil is also one of the petitioners in the Maratha quota case in the Bombay High Court.
Shops, business establishments, industrial units, vegetable markets, hotels, restaurants, schools and colleges remained shut throughout the day in Pune city and Pimpri-Chinchwad as well as in Pune district. Buses of the PMPML, the city’s transport body, operated till 10.30 am, after which the services were stopped for the rest of the day. Buses of the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation remained off the roads.
Asking the Devendra Fadnavis-led state government to take serious note of the bandh, Patil said, “The state government should keep its word of submitting the progress report of the Backward Classes Commission before the High Court by September 15. It should also give an education fee waiver and provide free hostel facilities to Maratha students,” he said. Patil said all criminal cases against protesters should be withdrawn, adding that despite repeated pleas, the government has refused to withdraw the cases, “fuelling anger among youngsters”.
“The few violent incidents that occurred during Thursday’s bandh are regrettable. But they also reflect the anger among the youth, which will continue to grow if the government does not act strongly on the demands raised by them,” he said.
Abasaheb Patil, another coordinator of the Morcha, echoed the same demand, saying, “All cases against all agitators should be withdrawn. The government should also extend a helping hand to those who committed suicide to demand reservation for the community…,” he said.
Sambhaji Brigade’s state unit president, Manoj Akhare, said the “total success” of the bandh showed that the demands raised by the Maratha community had “complete backing” from across the state. “Our message to the state government is that it should waste no time in convening a special session of the state legislature. There should be a time-bound plan. The special session should take place in September. The government can help the commission speed up its work by providing it necessary financial assistance and manpower. Otherwise, things will remain where they are,” he said.
Akhare said the Chief Minister should act practically, adding, “The government’s priority should be to help the commission submits its report as quickly as possible”.
Rajendra Kondhare, another coordinator of the Morcha, said they would like to thank the people of Maharashtra for “expressing full support” to the bandh call. “We expect the government to implement the plans it has promised the Maratha community and ensure that they reach the grassroot level,” he said.
Kondhare said since all eyes were on the report of the Backward Classes Commission, it was the duty of the government to ensure there were no further delays in submission of the commission’s report.
Maruti Bhapkar, another Morcha coordinator, said the bandh was “unique, as it has received support from all sections of the society”. “… If nobody is opposing the demands raised by the Maratha community, why is the government taking its own time,” he asked.