Pune: The Maratha Morcha, which has been organised on a large scale for more than a year now and which has been appreciated for their planning, patience and non-violent approach, has taken a violent turn in many places in the State and rural areas in Pune. The city though saw a peaceful bike rally from Marathon Bhavan to Sambhaji statue at Deccan on Tuesday.
The Maratha community has been demanding reservation under the OBC (Other Backward Castes), a dilution of the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act, implementation of the Swaminathan Commission recommendations, economic aid under the Annasaheb Patil Mahamandal and other such demands. The primarily agrarian community has seen a prevailing tension about economic and social issues in recent years.
While the issue of Maratha reservations is being decided by the judiciary, the State government announced a mega drive to recruit 16,000 people, pushing the already agitated Marathas over the edge due to the fear of losing out on the huge recruitment opportunity as the reservations have not yet been finalised or implemented. This has caused the fresh round of protests around the State, turning the ‘mukh’ (silent) morcha, into a ‘thok’ (beat up) morcha.
In the aggressive reaction, the Maratha protesters have reportedly pelted stones at government offices in Baramati and instances of aggressive demonstrations were reported in various areas of Marathwada.
During the funeral of Kakasaheb Shinde at Aurangabad, Chandrakant Khaire, a Shiv Sena leader, who had gone to pay his condolences, was beaten up by angry protesters present at the funeral. Also, in many places, bus service was suspended due to the violence during the agitation.
“The proposal for the ‘thok morcha’ had come during the silent marches itself. The ‘thok’ then meant just direct and straight to the point approach. Now, that the community has taken over the agitation without any coordinated plan, the ‘thok’ has been interpreted as beating up,” said Prashant Bhosale, a member of the organising body of the mukh morchas, adding, “The government has not only failed in its promises but is it not actively pushing the community over the edge?”
“We, as organisers, have always kept the morcha away from partisan politics. We have been averse to NCP and Congress, as we are of the government and they have all betrayed us and used us,” Bhosale said.
“The government first avoided the affidavit that was asked to be filed by the courts and then has defunded the State Backward Class Commission and that has further delayed the reservations.”
One of the organisers of the bike rally in Pune, Pramod Adsul, said, “One of our Maratha brothers in Aurangabad, Kakasaheb Shinde, sacrificed his life for the cause on Monday by jumping into Godavari river. Hence, we have organised a rally in the city to pay him our respects and to express our feeling of anger against the government. We are not being aggressive for now, as Warkaris are getting back to their homes. But once they reach home, we will aggressively come out on the streets until the government takes back the announcement of mega recruitment.”