A 35-year-old man committed suicide at Beed district while eight protesters attempted suicide in Latur on Tuesday as the agitation by the Maratha community demanding reservation intensified. As the state witnessed the fifth suicide over the issue, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said that for the quota to be valid, it needs to stand legal and constitutional scrutiny.
Abhijit Deshmukh, a resident of Vida village at Beed district in Marathwada region hanged himself from a tree near his house. “We found a suicide note in which Deshmukh mentioned that he is taking this extreme step in support of Maratha reservation demand,” Beed SP G Shridhar told PTI. Among the other reasons Deshmukh mentioned in his note were unemployment and unpaid bank loan, police said.
In the self-immolation attempt, held outside the tehsildar office at Ausa in Latur district — also in Marathwada region — eight protesters poured kerosene on themselves and attempted suicide. But the police intervened and the protesters were taken into custody, said Latur SP Shivaji Rathod. “After convincing them to take up their demands with the government, we allowed them to go,” he added.
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Amid growing demand from the Opposition to announce reservation for the Marathas without waiting for the State Backward Class Commission’s report on the community’s socio-economic status, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Tuesday said the process needs to stand legal and constitutional scrutiny, which is mandatory for the sustenance of the quota.
Speaking to mediapersons Mumbai on Tuesday, he said: “Any hasty attempt to rush Maratha reservation without adequate provisions will defeat the larger cause of the community. The reservation will become significant only if it withstands constitutional and legal scrutiny.” For this purpose, the government has emphasised on receiving the report from the commission before announcing quota, he added.
On Monday, Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray had said: “The government should enforce Maratha reservation by calling a special session of the Assembly… without waiting for the State Backward Class Commission’s report. It should issue an ordinance.”
Fadnavis indicated that any such attempt would amount to dishonesty. “Reservation cannot come into force unless it has valid constitutional and legal sanctity,” he reiterated. “We are sincerely supporting the demand for Maratha reservation. It is our honest intention to provide the community reservation. Therefore, we have taken all necessary measures in the last three-and-a-half years.”
Fadnavis said that a 1,200-page document has been submitted to the court on the historic background of the Marathas to substantiate their social and economic backwardness. “The commission’s report, based on door-to-door survey, will prove the socio-economic backwardness of the Marathas, which is necessary get reservation,” he added.
The CM said that beyond reservation, serious attempts have been made to provide financial support to the Marathas to pursue the higher and professional studies, for which 50 per cent fee concessions have been announced. Moreover, through financial loans, the government wants to promote Maratha enterpreneurs, he added.
“Skill development and financial support will help Marathas emerge as entrepreneurs. They would become job givers and not just job seekers,” said Fadnavis.
Meanwhile, the Maratha Kranti Morcha, which is spearheading the protests, demanding reservation in jobs and educational institutions, will organise a ‘jail bharo’ agitation at Azad Maidan in Mumbai on Wednesday.
Besides reservation, some of the demands of the Morcha include an apology and resignation of the CM and Revenue Minister Chandrakant Patil, compensation of Rs 50 lakh for the youths who have lost their lives and Rs 10 lakh for those injured and withdrawing all “false” cases registered against the agitators.
On July 29, a 38-year-old had allegedly committed suicide in Nanded district over the quota demand. The same day, a 35-year-old man had allegedly committed suicide by jumping in front of a moving train in Aurangabad over the quota demand. Last week, two men in Aurangabad district had committed suicide over demand for the quota, while another protester, injured in the Maratha stir violence in Navi Mumbai, died on July 26.