CM’s Sops Follow Maratha Rally
Our Political Bureau
Mumbai: The city saw one of its biggest rallies as the Maratha community from across the state converged at Azad Maidan near Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus bringing large parts of Mumbai to a standstill. The march billed as the mother of all rallies as around 8 lakh people visited Azad Maidan.
The rally ended up throwing the entire city’s transport system off gear. For instance, the entire Eastern Express Freeway had a huge traffic jam for hours. Trains especially on the Central and Harbour routes were also jampacked as members of the community used it to reach Byculla. The Marathas have been holding rallies since August protesting against the alleged gang-rape and murder of a minor girl from the community by a few Dalit men. The protesters made a list of its demands to the government, incuding reservation in education and jobs for Maratha community, amendments to t Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, which the Marathas alleged is being misused against them by the Dalit community. The community has also demanded a minimum support price for their farm produce. The community has been careful not to let politicians hijack the issue. On Wednesday, the protesters tore the banners of MNS, Shiv Sena and other parties welcoming them to Mumbai. So much so that Mumbai BJP chief Ashish Shelar, who belongs to the community, was booed out from Azad Maidan when he went there in the morning. Shelar was also allegedly manhandled. However, he later denied that such an incident had occurred.
Speakers comprising mostly young girls discussed the Kopardi incident on stage and demanded that the culprits be punished. They also assailed the government for not taking measures to ensure them reservations in education and jobs. Later in the day. a delegation of Maratha leaders submitted a memorandum to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis along with an all-party delegation. Fadnavis accepted their demands,which included building hostels for Maratha students in districts and land for Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj Research, Training & Human Development Institute.