Schools and colleges in Pune district may remain closed on Thursday due to the statewide protests planned by the Maratha Kranti Morcha to press for its demand for Maratha reservation. District authorities will take a final decision on this by Wednesday. District Collector Naval Kishore Ram said educational institutions may be closed for a day to avoid “undue trouble” to parents.
“The worry is not only about the possibility of violence… it’s also about the children finding it difficult to return home if traffic stops or slows down… this may cause unnecessary trouble and anxiety to parents…. we will most probably decide in favour of keeping schools and colleges shut for a day,” said Ram.
He said a proposal regarding the closure of schools and colleges had also come from the Zilla Parishad’s chief executive officer.
“Academic loss of a day can be made up for later… instead of exposing children to potential trouble. I have also seen that many schools declare a holiday in case of such a protest, as school buses won’t operate normally. Considering all the factors, I think it will be a wise decision to keep schools and colleges closed on the day of the protests,” said Ram.
Pune District Collector Naval Kishore Ram on Tuesday appealed to leaders of the Maratha Kranti Morcha’s Pune unit to hold peaceful agitations and ensure that no damage was caused to public properties. The meeting was attended by over 20 representatives of the Maratha community, including Rajendra Kondhare, Balasaheb Amrale, Rahul Pokle, Viraj Taware, Raghunath Chitre, Tushar Kakde and Yuvraj Disle, as well as Superintendent of Police, Pune Rural Sandip Patil.
During the meeting, the Maratha leaders shared their concerns about criminal cases lodged against protesters and issues faced by Maratha youth who have tried to benefit from the various schemes offered by the government. When the district collector said senior members in the community should urge youngsters not to take the law in their own hands and protest peacefully on August 9, the day the Maratha community is planning to hold statewide protests, those who attended the meet assured that the agitation would remain peaceful and there were no plans to block the roads.
“The discussions happened on a very positive note. I and Sandip Patil… conveyed to them our dismay in the way some youngsters lost their lives in the course of the protest in the last fortnight. I informed them about the positive stance taken by the state government and the chief minister… of completing the statutory requirements to provide the… quota by November-end,” said Ram.
Patil advised the leaders to remain vigilant, so that untoward incidents don’t “tarnish” the peaceful movement of the Maratha community. “Innocent youngsters will not face any trouble from our side. It’s the responsibility of the leaders to make sure there’s no communication gap between the leaders and participants,” he said.