August 9, 2018 3:44:58 am
At village Kaygaon, Gangapur taluka in district Aurangabad, the bridge overlooking river Godavari has at least 30 policemen pacing up and down the 10 to 15 km stretch. At a centre point on a slightly raised podium, a policeman has been seated to monitor the activities round the clock.
On July 23, this new Kaygaon bridge witnessed the first suicide by a 27-year-old Maratha youth, Kakasaheb Shinde. Shinde jumped into the river from the bridge.
Now, almost 16 days later, Sakal Maratha Samaj Maratha Kranti Morcha (SMSMKM) has issued a clarion call for Maharashtra bandh to demand reservation in job and education for the Marathas.
The SMSMKM, while urging people to take to the streets and show solidarity for the Maratha reservation cause, has issued a strict 14-point Code of Conduct (CoC), stressing that the agitation should be peaceful.
The CoC clearly underline the dos and don’ts for the protesters and have been thoroughly circulated on WhatsApp and Facebook.
The SMSMKM coordinator in Hingoli district, Shinde Patil said, “We have issued our CoC across talukas and districts. We want a peaceful bandh.”
The CoC states: “The protesters should not resort to any extreme steps like suicide. Suicide will not solve the problems. Moreover, now at a time when we have already taken up our cause, it is pointless if we cannot enjoy the fruits of reservation.”
The CoC warns protesters against taking law and order in hands. It stresses that while participating in the bandhs, they should cooperate with police. They should ensure that there is no damage to public or private property. All the local units of the community in their talukas and districts should execute the action plan in accordance to the CoC. It warned the supporters against falling prey to “whisper campaign”.
The essential services should not be affected, it says. Avinash Shinde, 23, younger brother of Kakasaheb Shinde, said, “The death of my elder brother was sad. But I will participate in the bandh on Thursday. It is to support Maratha reservation.” He said, “We should continue our agitation in a peaceful way. Ending life is not the way forward. Only the family who has lost any loved ones knows how painful it is. Instead, we should all live to ensure and enjoy the reservation benefits.”
Across districts Beed, Parbhani, Hingoli, Nanded, Aurangabad, there us a unanimous call for bandh. Every taluka unit of Maratha organisations have meticulously planned to ensure its success emphasising on peace and harmony. There is a clear directives across rural and urban areas across these districts in Marathwada to shun violence.
At village Takri-Khumbhakarna in district Parbhani, the villagers have pledged not to allow any outsiders to create nuisance.
At the meeting held to roll out the band plan, elderly people have decided to lead the bandh so that the youths don’t take law and order in their hands.
According to Prakash Samale, “We want to hold demonstrations. But ensure that there is no violence. We don’t want our youths to face criminal charges following violence. It will affect their careers.”
Even rural areas have decided to display their support to reservation by staging a — Thiya Andolan.
They plan to come out to the main village chowk or bus-stand. Or take to village roads that connect main road along with their family members and farm animals.
However, they have also been cautioned by the organisation to ensure it does not lead to any untoward incident or cause inconvenience to people and distrupt essential services like emergency medical help.
The SMSMKM key leader Aabasaheb Patil said, “The ongoing protest and bandh is to highlight the concerns of the poor Maratha community. We want government to ensure quick implementation of the reservation to help our poor youths in education and jobs.”
Apart from deploying additional forces in all sensitive districts, the police official in last one week held deliberations with local units to ensure peace and normalcy. In several villages across districts, meetings took place between villagers and local police.
The Maratha bandh is part of their ongoing agitation to demand 16 per cent reservation in education and jobs. They want the government to give in writing a time-bound plan on reservation. Across Marathwada regions, the hostels and other establishments have taken all precautionary steps to ensure strict observance of bandh on Thursday.
In Aurangabad, a commercial establishments said, “We will keep our shutters down during bandh. We will close down the shutters early Wednesday.”
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