Pune: The protesters, who had started protests for the Dhangar reservation in 2008, have now warned the State government of massive protests if their demands for reservation are not met. The Dhangar community has long been demanding reservations in line with the Dhangad community all over India. The protesters addressed the media on Tuesday in the city.
Pandurang Mergal, one of the protesters, who walked from Pandharpur to Baramati in a protest march, said that the Dhangar community feels cheated by the ruling party. “The earlier government did not listen to our demands. That is when the BJP and its allies approached us and promised us reservations if we vote for them,” said Mergal, adding, “Even the Chief Minister himself accepted that they won because of reservation issue.”
“It has been four years since the government came to power and the community is asking for their right. Dr BR Ambedkar has given us that right through the Constitution, it is only a spelling difference of Dhangad, which is accepted in the Constitution and Dhangar, that is stopping our community from getting it,” Mergal said, adding, “Backward castes are facing gross injustice.”
Mergal also spoke about the instances of police aggression that happened during Ahilyadevi Holkar’s birth anniversary celebrations in Chondi, near Jamkhed. “This government came to power on our votes. They hit our children in a lathi charge and arrested them under sections like 360 and 353. We brought you to power, we can take you down,” he said, adding, “Our children have been kept in the worst conditions. Such repression by the government is unprecedented.”
“We demand that all the cases that have been put on the people of the community during the last few years of protests should be taken back,” Mergal said. “If the reservation promises are not kept and the cases are not taken back in two months, the community will not rest. We will protest everywhere and the ministers of the State will not be able to go anywhere in Maharashtra,” he added.