Worried by the spate of suicides by protesters, Marathas of Sirsam village in Hingoli district have adopted a novel method to demand reservation. In the last three days, more than 75 villagers have donated a drop of blood each, as part of an initiative by two village doctors, Dr Suresh Sadashiv Jadhav and Dr Laxman Pathade.
“It’s a way to tap into the growing unrest and anger among the youth, who are increasingly taking extreme steps and ending their lives demanding quota. Through this campaign, we are striving to help young protesters vent their anger while ensuring they don’t resort to suicides,” Jadhav said.
“Donating a drop of blood is a way to make the youth feel they have contributed what is most precious in life – blood,” he added. Jadhav, a Bachelor of Ayurveda Medicine and Sciences, said, “After protesters donated a drop of blood each, our demands, names of donors, their villages and phone numbers are written in blood with a pencil tip.”
Jadhav said the process they had adopted for protesters to donate blood was medically harmless. At least 75 villagers have taken part in the campaign so far. The messages of the villagers, written with blood, was then handed over to the local authorities.
Jadhav and Pathade said they came up with the idea as they were concerned by the growing number of suicides by Maratha youths, who have been at the forefront of the agitation this time. Besides the spate of suicides, at least 56 youths have been slapped with serious charges during the protests last fortnight.
Across Beed, Parbhani and Hingoli districts, Maratha youths have been spearheading the protests under the banner of ‘Thiya Andolan’. A graduate from Vasantrao Naik Agriculture University in Parbhani, Sandeep Hinge said, “We know life is precious. But the bigger question is the growing helplessness of educated youths to find suitable jobs. We are losing out to 52 per cent reservation given to SCs, STs and OBCs. In spite of scoring well, we are unable to find admission in good colleges or get jobs. The higher fees in colleges in open category compounds the problems for Marathas, whose main occupation is farming.”
At Takri village in Parbhani district, village elders held a meeting on August 5, where it was decided that village elders would henceforth lead the protests. Sarpanch Prabhu Jaiswal blamed the violence on outsiders. “The villagers have always coexisted in peace and harmony. But when outsiders join the protest it leads to unrest,” he said.