Siddhesh Inamdar

They are demanding reservation for Maharashtrians in education and employment

PUNE: The Sambhaji Brigade and other Maratha outfits on Tuesday warned of intensifying their agitation — for reservation for Marathas in education and employment — on February 19, birth anniversary of Maratha warrior-king Shivaji.

On that day last year, Maratha outfits threw stones at a helicopter carrying two Maharashtra Ministers, Dilip Walse-Patil and Babanrao Pachpute, as it was landing at the Shivneri fort, Shivaji’s birthplace, about 90 km from here.

This year, they have warned of a more bitter agitation.

Secretary of the Sambhaji Brigade Santosh Shinde told The Hindu: “We can’t reveal the details of what we will do on Shivjayanti at the Shivneri fort. But I can say that it will be something that shakes up the political leadership and the administration, because they haven’t taken our agitation seriously yet. Last year, there were about 5,000 of our workers from just Pune district present at the fort for the agitation. This year, there will be about 12,000.”

Mr. Shinde said Chief Minister Ashok Chavan had promised reservation for Marathas but failed to deliver. He blamed Maratha leader and Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar for not doing enough to ensure reservation for Marathas.

“Politicians have tried to portray as though there are differences amongst Maratha organisations on the issue of reservation,” he said.

“But that is not true. It is the leaders who are the culprits.”

Among many things, Mr. Shinde said, agitators would put up banners at the fort on Shivjayanti demanding reservation. He said workers would also dump leaflets in Ministers’ cars. “Our agitation will not end on February 19,” he said.

“After that, we will hold meetings in every taluka of the State under the banner of the Maratha Aarakshan Sangharsh Samiti [Maratha Reservation Agitation Committee] to tell the people about the need and importance of reservation.”

Other organisations such as the Maratha Mahasangh, the Maratha Seva Sangh, the Jijau Brigade and the Shivrajya Pratishthan will also be part of the agitation.

Corrections and Clarifications

The strapline of a report "Maratha outfits to intensify agitation onShivjayanti" (February 4, 2010) was "They are demanding reservation forMaharashtrians in education and employment". The Staff Reporter clarifies:"This is misleading. The outfits are demanding reservation for members ofthe Maratha caste and not all Maharashtrians."