Updated: June 14, 2021 12:00:17 pm
With the Centre and state government “not taking decisive steps” to resolve their demands, the Maratha community has decided to start silent sit-in protests at prominent spots in 36 districts across Maharashtra. The coordinators of Maratha Kranti Morcha, aggrieved students and people’s representatives will be allowed to remain in the forefront of the protests.
“Due to Covid-19, we are not taking out morchas like earlier. From June 16, we will hold silent protests in all districts of the state,” MP Sambhajiraje Chhatrapati, who is galvanising support for the agitation, said on Sunday.
Sambhajiraje added, “In Kolhapur, the silent protests will be held at the Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj samadhi. In other districts, the protest will be held at prominent spots. Our coordinators, aggrieved students and people’s representatives will be in the front rows of the agitation.”
On May 5, the Supreme Court had quashed the 12 per cent and 13 per cent reservation in education and jobs for the community, which was upheld by the Bombay High Court. The reservation was given under the Socially and Educationally Backward Classes Act, 2018.
Explaining the reason for involving people’s representatives in the agitation, Sambhajiraje said, “This agitation is not about thook morcha…this has gone beyond the people. We don’t want people to take out morchas. We don’t want to hold people for ransom. The Supreme Court has quashed our plea for reservation. Now is the time for decisive action…it has to be taken by the Centre, state and the people’s representatives. They will have to find a solution to the demands of the community, especially relating to reservation.”
At the top of their demands is the creation of supernumerary posts. Sambhajiraje has advocated for a supernumerary system to resolve the reservation issue. “If the government implements supernumerary system, it will easily take care of the demand for reservation in jobs and education of the Maratha community. I have been advocating supernumerary for long but the state government remains indecisive on this front,” he said.
Asked whether he has raised the issue of supernumerary with Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, Sambhajiraje said, “I have discussed the issue with the Chief Minister, but he has been non-committal. He is saying anything on this count. We are pushing for it but the government is not responding. And that is the reason why we are left with no option but to agitate…”
Sambhajiraje said they have put forth five demands before the government on behalf of the community. “Besides supernumerary, we have demanded that SARTHI be run effectively, Annasaheb Mahamandal be strengthened, hostels be set up for community’s students in every district and reservation be provided to poor Maratha youths on priority like it has been done for other OBC youths,” he said.
“If government implements the system of supernumerary, I feel we can find the solution to the reservation demands of the Maratha community. Supernumerary along with strengthening Sarathi are key to our demands. Their implementation will even stop protests from the community. Supernumerary will only lead to additional expenditure as it involves creation of more posts or more seats…A government committed to people’s welfare should have no problem in creating more posts and seats and incurring more expenditure,” he said.
Among their other demands is filing of review petition and curative petitions, Sambhajiraje said. “But this will involve a long process. Since the Supreme Court has said Maratha community is a forward caste, the government will have to set up another commission to prove we are socially and educationally backward…It will take months…What should the Maratha youths do till then ? That is why we are saying the State, the Centre and the people’s representatives will have to sit together and find a solution. And we are offering the solution, they have to simply implement it. Even that they are not ready to do,” he said.
On Saturday, Sambhbhajiraje was in Kopardi village of Ahmednagar district where a minor from the Maratha community was raped and murdered in 2016. It had sparked the Maratha community’s agitation, seeking justice for the victim as well raising demand for reservation.
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