Pune: Representatives of the Dhangar community on Tuesday announced that if the activists and youths arrested in Chondi (Ahmednagar district) during the Ahilyabai Holkar’s Birth Anniversary celebrations are not granted bail or released, they will go on an indefinite protest and never vote for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) again. The representatives were addressing the media in the city.
The Dhangar community has been demanding reservations since 2008 but there have been various technical and institutional hurdles. During the run-up to the 2014 State assembly elections, the BJP had made the Dhangar reservation issue a major rallying point and in the process included ally Rashtriya Samaj Party leader Mahadev Jankar in its cabinet.
“We have been cheated by the BJP on its promise to implement reservations, which is why we were protesting for our demands at Chondi,” said Shravan Wagh, an aspiring Dhangar leader. While the government had organised the birth anniversary celebrations of Ahilyabai Holkar, the famed queen of the Holkar family under Ram Shinde’s leadership, stones were pelted at the convoy of the water conservation minister.
“Over 50 people were detained for staging protests by the police before the stone pelting started. It was an unruly mob that pelted stones. Yet, 16 activists demanding reservations have been forcefully arrested and slapped with charges as serious as section 307 (Attempt to murder),” said Wagh, adding, “A highly qualified doctor like Indrakumar Bhise too has been arrested and we demand his bail by Wednesday.”
“Students, educated professionals and even two people from the Maratha community have been arrested by the police. The speaker of the Lok Sabha, Sumitra Mahajan, was there too. Hence, everything must be on the camera. The police should submit the footage to the court,” Wagh said. When told that the court decides on bail pleas, he added, “We don’t want the police to demand an extended custody, or else, the government will realise that if we can elect them, we can also pull them down.”