Pune: A week since the State has been seeing massive protests of the Maratha community, there have been allegations from the community that protesters, especially the youths, have been slapped with charges ranging from theft to attempt to murder for participating in the agitations. The Pune Maratha Kranti Morcha (MKM) organised a rally in the city on Sunday morning to demand that all these charges be taken back by the government.
The MKM collaborates the agitations over pockets across the state. The morchas that began last year, have been demanding the State government primarily provide reservations to the Maratha community among other demands like implementation of Swaminathan Commission recommendations and expansion of Annasaheb Patil Mahamandal. The community reacted sharply to the State government’s recent announcement to fill up 72,000 government vacancies.
Vikas Pasalkar, one of the members of the MKM, said the government has been callous in its handling of the protests. “The current government had promised so many things before coming to power. Now after four years in power, it has failed to deliver on a single one of them. They have failed the community and the state in every sense. The farmer is suffering and so are the students, putting the whole community off balance.”
Pasalkar said, “The youths were angry about being denied their rights. They might have indulged in tyre burning or causing damage, but they have been slapped with sections like 302 and 307. These were protesters, not criminals. If the government does not understand that soon, the Maratha community will show what it can do.”
Ashish Patil, a student from Kolhapur studying in Pune said, “We are being targeted by the home ministry and they are purposely slapping false charges against us. We are here to protest these charges. The government says it will only book the serious offences. The government should answer why the common Maratha youth was driven to commit such an act. They instead tried to malign by alleging a conspiracy to disrupt the Wari and such things.”
Akash Bhalerao, a student from Pune, said, “Educational fees are skyrocketing and a common Maratha youth can no longer afford them. We are only asking for reservations in jobs and education, not political. We have been patient in our protest, but some antisocial elements have committed violence and others are suffering for it.”
He added, ”The earlier government at least tried to talk to us, but this government is only interested in advertising. Our political leaders too failed and this anger is against them.”