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'Ek Maratha, Lakh Maratha': Quota Agitation Has Maharashtra on the Edge, Again

Eknath Shinde government set up a panel to look into demands for Maratha reservation struck down by Supreme Court.

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"There was an unfortunate incident in which lathi-charge and tear gas was used by the police on Manoj Jarange and his supporters in Jalna. This behaviour cannot be supported. I apologise to all innocent citizens injured during the use of force. The honourable chief minister has ordered a high-level inquiry in the matter and ordered for action to be taken against those responsible," said Maharashtra Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis while addressing the media on Monday, 4 September as he attempted to pacify the angered Maratha community that has taken the state by storm for the past three days.

Vehicles set ablaze, over 50 citizens and 37 policemen injured, calls for Fadnavis' resignation — Maharashtra is once again on the edge over the issue of reservation in education and jobs to the Marathas, an unresolved issue that has been a poll plank for both the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and the Maha Vikas Aghadi governments in the past seven years.

The weekend saw widespread protests turning violent at several places in the state following a clash between policemen and protesters led by local Maratha leader and Maratha Kranti Morcha (MKM) leader Manoj Jarange in Jalna that left several injured on 1 September. Jarange had been sitting on a hunger strike for days before the clashes.
Eknath Shinde government set up a panel to look into demands for Maratha reservation struck down by Supreme Court.

Sakal Maratha Samaj members stage a Rasta Roko protest on Pune-Solapur Highway against Jalna administration over alleged lathicharge on protestors demanding Maratha reservation, in Solapur, Sunday, 3 September, 2023.

(Photo: PTI)

Amid allegations of the Mantralaya 'ordering' the police to forcefully remove protesters, Fadnavis, also the state home minister, said on Monday that some leaders have tried to politicise the issue and that "there are deliberate attempts to create tensions between the cabinet and the community."

"The lathi charge orders are given at the level of SP and DSP. It had nothing to do with anybody in the government," Fadnavis asserted.

The clash not only brought national attention to the protests in Jalna that were being led by Jarange for days before the clash, but also gave the Opposition Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) ammunition to target the Eknath Shinde-Fadnavis-Pawar government in the state.

'Ek Maratha, Lakh Maratha': Quota Agitation Has Maharashtra on the Edge, Again

  1. 1. The Aftermath of Jalna Clashes

    Jarange, who has been actively spearheading pro-reservation protests since 2016, sat on a hunger strike on 29 August in Antarvali-Sarati village in Jalna along with several other activists.

    Amid the state's attempts to urge Jarange to end his protests, the Jalna police on 1 September pitched to shift Jarange to a hospital for check-up. His supporters, however, insisted that Jarange be checked by private doctors instead.

    The policemen then clashed with the supporters and resorted to lathi-charge and tear gas shelling.

    While the protesters claimed that they were forcefully being evicted, the police claimed that the protesters resorted the stone-pelting leaving at least 37 policemen injured.

    The 'attack' on Jarange's supporters sparked demonstrations for two consecutive days in several districts including Mumbai, Ahmednagar, Beed, Buldhana, Solapur, Dhule, Sindhudurg, Nashik, Pun, Baramati, Parli, and Akola.

    The Opposition, however, took the opportunity to question the clashes. Former CM and Shiv Sena (UBT) chief Uddhav Thackeray and Sharad Pawar even met Jarange and targeted the Shinde government to demand immediate resolution to the community's problems.

    Eknath Shinde government set up a panel to look into demands for Maratha reservation struck down by Supreme Court.

    NCP chief Sharad Pawaron 2 September visited those injured in the clashes in Jalna.

    (Photo: X/NCPSpeaks)

    Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray, who is considered close to Fadnavis, too met Jarange on Monday and condemned his statement on "politicising the issue."

    Expand
  2. 2. The Legal Handcuffs on Maratha Reservation

    The demand for reservations in education and jobs for the Marathas dates back to over four decades.

    Since 2016, several organisations under the umbrella body MKM have led several agitations across the state to demand for reservation.

    Since August 2016-17, the body has carried out 58 silent rallies. Between 2017-18, the community saw several aggressive protests with many even dying by suicide.

    In June 2017, then CM Fadnavis set up a committee under Justice (retired) NG Gaikwad after consulting stakeholders from across the community, including members of the MKM. In 2018, the panel submitted a report stating that the community should be given reservation under the Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC).
    Eknath Shinde government set up a panel to look into demands for Maratha reservation struck down by Supreme Court.

    Mathadi workers of APMC Market stage a protest against Jalna administration over lathicharge on protestors demanding Maratha reservation, at Shivaji Maharaj Chowk Vashi, in Navi Mumbai, Saturday, 2 September, 2023.

    (Photo: PTI)

    In November 2018, the Maharashtra SEBC Act was enacted, the validity of which was upheld by the Bombay High Court. The state, however, was asked to reduce the proposed 16 percent reservation to 12 percent in education and 13 percent in jobs.

    The law was challenged in the Supreme Court which struck it down in May 2021 for violating the 50 percent reservation cap and the 102nd Constitutional Amendment.

    The Uddhav Thackeray government in June 2021 then provided 10 percent reservation to the community under the Economic Weaker Section ( EWS) quota, a move which was unacceptable to many from the community including the MKS.
    Expand
  3. 3. Of Taking Credit and Shifting Blame

    After sending several state leaders including Girish Mahajan and Udayan Raje Bhosale to pacify Jarange, Sinde on Monday held a high-level meeting to discuss the legalities around the reservation and fulfilling Jarange's demands.

    "A high-level meeting was conducted today. About the hunger strike and the subsequent incident in Jalna, I spoke to Jarange Patil and told him that the government is working towards meeting the demands of his agitation. We have seen at least 58 agitations of lakhs of Marathas but an untoward incident never took place. But whatever has happened in the past two-three days is unfortunate. The Maratha community is known to be peaceful and disciplined," Shinde said.

    Eknath Shinde government set up a panel to look into demands for Maratha reservation struck down by Supreme Court.

    Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde with Deputy Chief Ministers Devendra Fadnavis during a press conference after a meeting on the issue of Maratha reservation, in Mumbai, Monday, 4 September, 2023.

    (Photo: PTI)

    Clarifying the government's stand on the reservation, Shinde said: "The Marathas must get fool-proof reservation. When Devendra Fadnavis was CM, we did it then and we will do it now. We have constituted a task force. We are consulting senior advocate Harish Salve and his team, we are doing everything in our power to ensure reservation for the Maratha community. We jus need the community to have patience."

    "Many are suggesting that we should accommodate them in some other kinds of reservations but we first have to prove it in the court that the community is socially and economically backward," Shinde added.

    However, Shinde, Fadnavis, and Ajit Pawar equivocally condemned "attempts to politicise" the issue by the Opposition and blamed the Uddhav Thackeray-led MVA government for losing the case against the reservation in the apex court in 2021.

    Expand
  4. 4. 'No Demands Close to Being Met': Jarange

    Despite the government's attempts, Jarange and the MKS refuse to budge.

    "Several representatives of the government are coming here, they are free to do so. But they must come only if they have a final GR (Government Resolution) with them," Jarange has been telling his supporters at the protest site amid chants of 'ek Maratha Lakh Maratha (one Maratha is equivalent to lakhs)' and 'Maratha aarakshan milech pahije (Marathas must get reservation.)'

    After the media address by the dispensation, Jarange said that none of their demands have come close to being met.

    "Overall, it seems that no decision has been taken regarding reservation yet. I don't know what they will do tomorrow," Jarange said while addressing the media.
    Eknath Shinde government set up a panel to look into demands for Maratha reservation struck down by Supreme Court.

    Shiv Sena(UBT) chief Uddhav Thackeray met Manoj Jarange inJalna on 2 September.

    (Photo: X/Shiv Sena(UBT))

    "This generation fighting for reservation now does not expect all talk and no results," he said.

    While the government has sent Jalna SP Tushar Doshi and several other senior officers on leave, Jarange said that they will settle for nothing less than suspension.

    "Complaints have been filed under Section 307 (attempt to murder) have been filed. Ours is not a camp of killers or terrorists. We are not a tribe that picks up weapons and goes out with murderous intent. We want Sections like these withdrawn," Jarange said.

    (At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

    Expand

The Aftermath of Jalna Clashes

Jarange, who has been actively spearheading pro-reservation protests since 2016, sat on a hunger strike on 29 August in Antarvali-Sarati village in Jalna along with several other activists.

Amid the state's attempts to urge Jarange to end his protests, the Jalna police on 1 September pitched to shift Jarange to a hospital for check-up. His supporters, however, insisted that Jarange be checked by private doctors instead.

The policemen then clashed with the supporters and resorted to lathi-charge and tear gas shelling.

While the protesters claimed that they were forcefully being evicted, the police claimed that the protesters resorted the stone-pelting leaving at least 37 policemen injured.

The 'attack' on Jarange's supporters sparked demonstrations for two consecutive days in several districts including Mumbai, Ahmednagar, Beed, Buldhana, Solapur, Dhule, Sindhudurg, Nashik, Pun, Baramati, Parli, and Akola.

The Opposition, however, took the opportunity to question the clashes. Former CM and Shiv Sena (UBT) chief Uddhav Thackeray and Sharad Pawar even met Jarange and targeted the Shinde government to demand immediate resolution to the community's problems.

Eknath Shinde government set up a panel to look into demands for Maratha reservation struck down by Supreme Court.

NCP chief Sharad Pawaron 2 September visited those injured in the clashes in Jalna.

(Photo: X/NCPSpeaks)

Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray, who is considered close to Fadnavis, too met Jarange on Monday and condemned his statement on "politicising the issue."

ADVERTISEMENTREMOVE AD

The Legal Handcuffs on Maratha Reservation

The demand for reservations in education and jobs for the Marathas dates back to over four decades.

Since 2016, several organisations under the umbrella body MKM have led several agitations across the state to demand for reservation.

Since August 2016-17, the body has carried out 58 silent rallies. Between 2017-18, the community saw several aggressive protests with many even dying by suicide.

In June 2017, then CM Fadnavis set up a committee under Justice (retired) NG Gaikwad after consulting stakeholders from across the community, including members of the MKM. In 2018, the panel submitted a report stating that the community should be given reservation under the Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC).
Eknath Shinde government set up a panel to look into demands for Maratha reservation struck down by Supreme Court.

Mathadi workers of APMC Market stage a protest against Jalna administration over lathicharge on protestors demanding Maratha reservation, at Shivaji Maharaj Chowk Vashi, in Navi Mumbai, Saturday, 2 September, 2023.

(Photo: PTI)

In November 2018, the Maharashtra SEBC Act was enacted, the validity of which was upheld by the Bombay High Court. The state, however, was asked to reduce the proposed 16 percent reservation to 12 percent in education and 13 percent in jobs.

The law was challenged in the Supreme Court which struck it down in May 2021 for violating the 50 percent reservation cap and the 102nd Constitutional Amendment.

The Uddhav Thackeray government in June 2021 then provided 10 percent reservation to the community under the Economic Weaker Section ( EWS) quota, a move which was unacceptable to many from the community including the MKS.
0

Of Taking Credit and Shifting Blame

After sending several state leaders including Girish Mahajan and Udayan Raje Bhosale to pacify Jarange, Sinde on Monday held a high-level meeting to discuss the legalities around the reservation and fulfilling Jarange's demands.

"A high-level meeting was conducted today. About the hunger strike and the subsequent incident in Jalna, I spoke to Jarange Patil and told him that the government is working towards meeting the demands of his agitation. We have seen at least 58 agitations of lakhs of Marathas but an untoward incident never took place. But whatever has happened in the past two-three days is unfortunate. The Maratha community is known to be peaceful and disciplined," Shinde said.

Eknath Shinde government set up a panel to look into demands for Maratha reservation struck down by Supreme Court.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde with Deputy Chief Ministers Devendra Fadnavis during a press conference after a meeting on the issue of Maratha reservation, in Mumbai, Monday, 4 September, 2023.

(Photo: PTI)

Clarifying the government's stand on the reservation, Shinde said: "The Marathas must get fool-proof reservation. When Devendra Fadnavis was CM, we did it then and we will do it now. We have constituted a task force. We are consulting senior advocate Harish Salve and his team, we are doing everything in our power to ensure reservation for the Maratha community. We jus need the community to have patience."

"Many are suggesting that we should accommodate them in some other kinds of reservations but we first have to prove it in the court that the community is socially and economically backward," Shinde added.

However, Shinde, Fadnavis, and Ajit Pawar equivocally condemned "attempts to politicise" the issue by the Opposition and blamed the Uddhav Thackeray-led MVA government for losing the case against the reservation in the apex court in 2021.

ADVERTISEMENTREMOVE AD

'No Demands Close to Being Met': Jarange

Despite the government's attempts, Jarange and the MKS refuse to budge.

"Several representatives of the government are coming here, they are free to do so. But they must come only if they have a final GR (Government Resolution) with them," Jarange has been telling his supporters at the protest site amid chants of 'ek Maratha Lakh Maratha (one Maratha is equivalent to lakhs)' and 'Maratha aarakshan milech pahije (Marathas must get reservation.)'

After the media address by the dispensation, Jarange said that none of their demands have come close to being met.

"Overall, it seems that no decision has been taken regarding reservation yet. I don't know what they will do tomorrow," Jarange said while addressing the media.
Eknath Shinde government set up a panel to look into demands for Maratha reservation struck down by Supreme Court.

Shiv Sena(UBT) chief Uddhav Thackeray met Manoj Jarange inJalna on 2 September.

(Photo: X/Shiv Sena(UBT))

"This generation fighting for reservation now does not expect all talk and no results," he said.

While the government has sent Jalna SP Tushar Doshi and several other senior officers on leave, Jarange said that they will settle for nothing less than suspension.

"Complaints have been filed under Section 307 (attempt to murder) have been filed. Ours is not a camp of killers or terrorists. We are not a tribe that picks up weapons and goes out with murderous intent. We want Sections like these withdrawn," Jarange said.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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Topics:  Maratha   Maratha Community   Maratha Stir 

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