TO BUILD pressure on the government to withdraw cases filed against Maratha youth involved in violent protests for reservations in the recent past, a group of women members of the Maratha Kranti Morcha launched an indefinite protest at Azad Maidan in Mumbai on Thursday. According to the women, who belong to Satara district, the group had protested between August 1 and 8 at Karad in Satara, demanding the immediate withdrawal of cases registered against Maratha youngsters. They had also demanded Rs 50 lakh in compensation for the families of each youth who committed suicide during the protests and 50 per cent concession in college admission fees among other things.
“However, there was no response from the state government. We were expecting the chief minister to make a statement on August 15 but nothing happened. That is when we decided to shift to Mumbai to make the government work on our demands immediately. Our protest is indefinite and we will not leave unless the government acts on our demands,” said Vaishali Jadhav, a resident of Karad.
“We hope that many more women from across the state will join our agitation in the coming days,” she added.
Eleven to 15 women gathered on the first day of the protest, but said they expect the numbers to grow.
Rupali Patil of the Morcha said that although Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has announced a withdrawal of the cases, it had not been done until Wednesday. “The police were arresting innocent women and youngsters from the Maratha community for just taking part in the protests. This is a deliberate attempt to break our protest. What is wrong in protesting legally?” asked Patil. She added that the government must act immediately on all issues that are not sub-judice. “The government has not given Rs 50 lakh compensation to the families of the Maratha youths who committed suicide. Some (Maratha agitation) leaders, who are accepting Rs 10 lakh compensation from the government, are the agents of the government… they have sold us out,” said Patil.
The state government has decided to a call special Assembly session in November to pass legislation to enable reservations for the community. Fadnavis has also agreed to withdraw cases of vandalism against Maratha protesters but has refused to withdraw the cases involving more serious charges, including assaulting police officials. The government has announced Rs 10 lakh ex-gratia and a job to one member of the families of those who committed suicide during the agitations.