Maratha outfits on Wednesday warned the Maha Vikas Aghadi government of a Maharashtra shutdown on October 10 if it failed to explain how it planned to extend the benefits meant for the Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) to the Maratha community.
The State Cabinet on Tuesday decided to extend the 10% reservation meant for the EWS to the Maratha community.
A ‘round table conference’ of Maratha outfits under the umbrella of ‘Maratha Arakshan (reservation) Action Samiti’ (MAAS) held on Wednesday in Kolhapur urged Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and his Cabinet to clarify how exactly the government planned to implement what it had announced.
“This time, we want to make sure that the government keeps its promises. We are giving them time till October 9 to clarify its decision. Failing this, we will stage a complete shutdown in Maharashtra on October 10. The bandh , if held, will be peaceful with all emergency services on,” Suresh Patil, who heads the MAAS, said.
Stating that protests across the State would not cease until the Maratha quota law was upheld in the Supreme Court, Mr. Patil said that the MAAS would be submitting a list of 15 demands to the CM and other senior Cabinet members.
These include fee waiver for Maratha community students, an immediate stop to the mega-recruitment drive to fill vacant police posts until the issue was resolved in the SC, increased funding to the tune of ₹1,000 crore to rejuvenate Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj Research Training and Human Development Institute or SARTHI, and withdrawing police cases lodged against Maratha protesters.
The Maratha Kranti Morcha — another umbrella outfit spearheading the quota agitation — has alleged that the phones of important leaders of the agitation was being tapped by the authorities.
Rajendra Kondhare, convenor, Maratha Kranti Morcha, said: “Perhaps the police do such things as a matter of course, but Maratha community leaders have sensed that their phones were being tapped by the administration of both the erstwhile BJP government and the MVA government. If this has indeed been happening, then we urge the Home Department to immediately look into it and put a stop to this practice.”
Mr. Kondhare warned that if this practice continued, then the Maratha agitation would be even more intense than that of the Patel or the Gujjar communities in the coming days.
Mr. Kondhare also urged the OBC community to join in the fight to ensure that Maratha community members got their due rights. “The OBCs must take two steps forward. We must look for alternatives beyond political compromises.”
On September 27, the Maratha Kranti Morcha has called for an ‘Aakrosh Morcha’ (anger-demonstration rally) in Pune to express its ire against all political parties and leaders in the district.
“We will be surrounding offices of all major political parties while demonstrating outside the homes of all legislators and MPs of Pune, who have failed to fight for the rights for the Maratha community while using us as vote banks,” a Maratha Kranti Morcha representative said.
Maratha community activists continued protests across the State on Wednesday, blocking roads and staging demonstrations in Sangli, Ahmednagar and Parbhani districts.