Maratha Morcha brings Mumbai to a grinding halt

Maratha Morcha brings Mumbai to a grinding halt


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Pics: Rons Bantwal
TOI

Mumbai, 10 Aug 2017: Thousands of people belonging to the Maratha community on Wednesday took out a silent protest march in Mumbai demanding reservation in jobs and education.

 

The massive silent march began from the Jijamata Udyan in Byculla in the morning amid tight security with participants carrying saffron swallowtail flags.

 

The Maharashtra assembly also witnessed chaotic scenes with both the opposition and the ruling party MLAs storming the well of the house demanding reservation for the Maratha community.

 

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Legislators climbed right up to the Speaker’s chair. The assembly was adjourned three times in the span of 45 minutes. MLAs from both the ruling parties and the opposition also held demonstrations outside the premises of the assembly to press for reservations. By noon, many MLAs left the assembly premises to participate in the Maratha Morcha.

 

Many parts of the city resembled a sea of Maratha community as protesters walked at a medium pace, sporting saffron turbans, carrying big and small saffron community flags. But there were no banners or placards of political messages.

 

People started arriving in Mumbai since early morning in private vehicles as well as public modes of transport. Police and traffic personnel were deployed in large numbers to manage the huge inflow of people and the movement of vehicles in Mumbai.

 

The JJ flyover was closed for traffic in view of the march, police said. Schools in south Mumbai were closed today as a precautionary measure, an official said.

 

The Mumbai’s famed ’Dabbawalas’ (lunchbox deliverymen), majority of whom hail from the Maratha community, also joined the march.

 

This is the 58th march of the Maratha community, exactly a year after the first such protest held in Aurangabad. The march has been organised by the Sakal Maratha Samaj, an umbrella organisation of several Maratha groups.

 

These ’mook morcha’ or silent rallies were held in various parts of the state following the brutal rape and murder of a 14-year-old girl, belonging to the Maratha community, at Kopardi village in Ahmednagar district in July 2016.

 

"A delegation of Maratha leaders will call on the chief minister to submit a memorandum listing their various demands. Though there are many issues, stress will be on education and job reservations for the Maratha community members," said former Chief Minister Narayan Rane, a prominent Maratha leader himself.

 

Narayan Rane headed a special committee appointed by the previous Congress-Nationalist Congress Party regime to study the socio-economic conditions of the Maratha community.

 

At Azad Maidan, where the Maratha morcha will culminate later today, the campaigners raised slogans as Mumbai BJP chief Ashish Shelar reached the venue.

 

Some of the campaigners said that they don’t want politicians to interfere.

 

Shelar rubbished reports that he was stopped and manhandled at Azad Maidan.

 

Social media platforms like Facebook, Whatsapp and Twitter have been used to rally the community members, the organisers said.

 

The silent protest is a peaceful way to press the demands for reservation in jobs and educational institutions and punishment for culprits in the Kopardi case, they said.

 

Their other demands include amendments in SC and ST (Prevention of Atrocities Act) to stop its misuse, loan waiver to curb farmer suicides and remunerative prices for agricultural produce.

 

No toll will be collected today from vehicles coming into Mumbai in order to avoid delays at collection points, considering the large number of vehicles entering the city.

 

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