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Mumbai braces for fresh Maratha march on 9 August

LiveMint logoLiveMint 06-08-2017 Abhiram Ghadyalpatil

Mumbai: Exactly a year after they demonstrated the might of a silent protest, Maratha organizations in Maharashtra will come together again to hold a silent march in Mumbai on Wednesday. The first Maratha Kranti Morcha (Maratha revolutionary march) was organized in Aurangabad city of Marathwada region on 9 August last year. Since then, as many as 57 silent marches have been staged, most of them in major cities and towns of Maharashtra, and a few cities in other states where the Marathas have some presence. The 58th march will be in keeping with “the spirit and code of conduct” of the previous protests, said one of the organizers and young Maratha activist Bhayya Patil, part of the social media team of Maratha Kranti Morcha. A senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader and minister in Maharashtra, who requested anonymity, said the government was ready for the march and had made all preparations.

Mahatma Gandhi had launched his Quit India movement against British rule on 9 August.

Patil said the Maratha march in Mumbai will put forth 15 demands that address the social, economic, educational and agrarian grievances of the caste that accounts for 32-35% of Maharashtra’s population. “There have been bike rallies of Maratha youths at all district places in Maharashtra and each rally saw participation of 10,000 to 20,000 youths. We held one such rally in Mumbai as well on 6 August, Sunday. This is part of the effort to create ambience and build up the tempo,” Patil told Mint. He said it is not possible at this stage to guess the turnout for the Mumbai morcha but added that the number would be high. Most of the 57 Maratha marches have witnessed a massive turnout.

In a press release, another organizer Virendra Pawar has said that the preparations for the Mumbai march are in full swing. The march will start from the Byculla Zoo at 10.30am on 9 August and terminate at Azad Maidan in South Mumbai. The organizers have appealed to the participants to observe the same code of conduct that has marked the previous protests—silent march, no speeches and slogans, no banners of any organization except the official logo of the Maratha Kranti Morcha, maximum participation of women, cleanliness and order.

On 9 August last year, a host of Maratha organizations came together under the banner of Sakal Maratha Samaj to organize a massive silent march to protest against the rape and murder of a teenage Maratha girl in Ahmednagar district in July that year. The Kopardi case (Kopardi is the name of the village where the crime took place) became the leitmotif of the Maratha protests marked by the strong presence of Maratha girls and women. While the primary demand of the protesters was speedy prosecution and death penalty to the culprits, the silent march took on other causes like quotas for Marathas in government-run and aided educational institutions and government jobs, farm loan waiver, and amendments to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act which the Marathas have alleged is misused against them. The Kopardi case is being heard in a fast-track court in Ahmednagar while the case for Maratha quota is being argued before the Bombay high court. The Devendra Fadnavis government in Maharashtra has taken a position in the court in favour of Maratha reservations. However, no amendments to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act have been proposed yet. 

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