Taking their campaign close to the state capital, members of the Maratha community on Wednesday took out a 'silent morcha' in Navi Mumbai after holding marches in different towns around the state to press various demands including stringent action in Kopardi rape case.
In a show of strength, thousands marched from Kharghar to the office of the Konkan Divisional Commissioner, highlighting issues including the Kopardi rape case, in which victim is a member of the community.
The 'Muk Morcha', which began from the Central Park at Kharghar in Raigadh district, wended its way through the highway before culminating at the Konkan Bhavan at Belapur. Unmindful of heavy downpour, the protestors, clad in black and carrying saffron flags, walked the 6-km stretch. A delegation of five girls, who were part of the march, later met Konkan Divisional Commissioner Prabhakar Deshmukh and submitted a memorandum on behalf of the Sakal Maratha Samaj, demanding strict action against the culprits in the rape case.
The Navi Mumbai police had deployed large contingents of personnel along the route to avoid any trouble and educational institutions and the APMC market in the area remained shut.
The protestors paid tributes to the soldiers martyered in the Uri terror attack before submitting the memorandum. The Maratha community, a dominant force in Maharashtra politics, has been taking out silent marches in various towns in the state over the last one month, following the rape and murder of a girl at Kopardi in Ahmednagar district two months ago. The victim belongs to a Maratha community, while the accused are Dalits.
The community leaders have been pressing for scrapping of the SC, ST (Prevention of Atrocities Act), saying it is grossly misused, and also raised other demands like quota in in education and jobs.
A similar march has been planned in Amravati tomorrow. The Maratha Kranti silent morchas in Akola, Nanded, Beed, Osmanabad and Aurangabad districts over the last one month had received huge response, forcing all political parties to take note of the community's grievances.
Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray on Wednesday demanded convening of a special one-day session of the state Legislature to address the issues being raised by the Maratha community. "Maratha leaders should come forward and voice their issues. There needs to be a discussion on the Atrocities Act and their reservation issue. We expect (NCP President) to raise this issue in Parliament while we will raise it in the state Legislature," he said.