Pune: The ongoing Maratha Morcha agitation, in an attempt to reign in unruly and scattered protesters, has shifted its strategy, organising planned sit-ins outside residences of elected representatives all over the state. On Thursday, the protesters in the city organised sit-ins outside the residences of Pune District Guardian Minister Girish Bapat, MP Vandana Chavan and Social Justice Minister Dilip Kamble.
The Maratha Morcha protests, which have been going on for almost two weeks now, were recently seen in a bad light after the unruly agitators allegedly resorted to violence at several places. After where large scale violence took place in Chakan, the Maratha Morcha organisers, denouncing the act, decided to go back to its peaceful method of protest.
The sit-ins are a part of the new strategy to demand that the government take back the cases against protesters by August 9, after which the protests might again take an aggressive turn.
Around 8 am, the protesters surrounded the residence of Bapat. He interacted with the protesters. “The minister was leaving for a meeting in Mumbai, for the Maratha agitations itself. Yet, he addressed us and listened to our demands,” said Abhay Adsul, a member of the Maratha Kranti Morcha organising body, adding, “He took our letter of demands and left for Mumbai.”
At 10 am, the protesters moved to the residence of MP Vandana Chavan of the Nationalist Congress Party. Chavan was not at her residence, so the protesters submitted the letter to her husband, who also assured the protesters of carrying their message to the MP, who was in Delhi for work. “We then went to the residence of Minister Dilip Kamble, but he and his family members refrained from meeting us. We met his assistant and gave him the letter of our demands,” said Adsul.
The Maratha Morcha agitators will be protesting outside the homes of Medha Kulkarni and Union Minister Prakash Javadekar at 10 am and 12 noon respectively. “We do not condone violence. We want to focus on the demands of Maratha reservations and clearing the cases from the names of our brothers who were protesting for their rights and not as criminals,” Adsul said, adding, “We are trying to meet other units all over the state and give direction to the scattered protesters and avoid violence henceforth.”
Bandh in Koregaon Park
Even though the official protesting body had not declared it, a small outfit in the Koregaon Park area organised a bandh, which saw shops closing down for the day.
“Shopkeepers, who were informed of the bandh, closed down on their own. The residents too were supportive for the bandh in the area. Offices and schools remained open,” claimed Rajendra Wagaskar of the
Maharashtra Navnirman Sena.
“We closed our shops on our own in support of the bandh and were not forced by anyone. We were informed before and most of us responded to the call,” said Santosh Bhosale, a shopkeeper in the area who owns a clothing and footwear shop.