Maharashtra govt nod to Maratha reservation: Since 1980s, community's fight for quota has been long, uneasy
The fight for reservation has not been easy for the politically dominant Maratha community which constitutes over 30 percent of Maharashtra's population. The community has been demanding a quota for a long time now and its agitation for the same in July and August 2018 had taken a violent turn.
The Maharashtra government accepted the State Backward Class Commission's report and agreed to give the Maratha community a quota in jobs and educational institutions.
According to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Sunday, the reservation will be granted to the community under a new category called 'Socially and Educationally Backward Class' (SEBC), as per the recommendations of the commission.
However, the fight for reservation has not been easy for the politically dominant Maratha community which constitutes over 30 percent of Maharashtra's population. The community has been demanding a quota for a long time now and its agitation for the same in July and August 2018 had taken a violent turn. Further, the Patidar movement in neighbouring Gujarat lent impetus to the Maratha stir.
In 1980, the Maratha groups were actually against caste-based quotas and did not want to be identified as “backward", the Deccan Herald reported. Moreover, Kunbis, the non-elite tillers from the community were included in the OBC quota bracket since 1989. But by the 90s, the demand for quotas in jobs and education had started growing owing to the support from the fringe groups, the report said. However, the demand has come mainly from the Maratha masses of backward regions like Marathwada and was sharpened by farm distress, unemployment and unfulfilled state promises.
Maharashtra govt bats for Maratha reservation
In 2004, the then Maharashtra government under Vilasrao Deshmukh set up the Justice Bapat Commission to look into the reservation demands of the Maratha community. Thereafter, under the aegis of Prithviraj Chavan, political parties openly came out in support of the demand for reservation to the Marathas. But, it was not until June 2014, that a concrete action plan started to take shape.
25 June 2014: The Congress-NCP Democratic Front government, headed by Prithviraj Chavan, approved a proposal to reserve 16 percent of government jobs and seats in educational institutions for the Marathas.
14 November 2014: After Fadnavis took over the reins of Maharashtra, the Bombay High Court stayed the previous government's decision.
15 November 2014: The BJP-Shiv Sena combine decided to move the Supreme Court.
18 December 2014: Supreme Court refused to vacate the high court's interim order staying the reservation.
6 January 2015: The Fadnavis government decided to tender additional information in the high court for supporting the reservation to Marathas.
Kopardi rape and murder triggers protests
13 July 2016: The rape and murder of a girl from the Maratha community at Kopardi in the Ahmednagar district fueled an agitation and the demand for reservation aggravated.
9 August 2016: The first Maratha Kranti Morcha was held in Aurangabad to solidify the demand for Maratha reservation. Hundreds of protesters blocked the Pune-Solapur highway. Thereafter, on 6 November 2016, a bike rally was held in Mumbai and on 20 November 2016, a Maratha morcha march was taken out in Delhi in support of the Maratha community's demand for reservation in government jobs and educational institutes.
5 December 2016: In light of the growing agitation, the present Maharashtra government filed an affidavit in the Bombay High Court to justify the reservation for Marathas as legal as it argued that it did not violate any constitutional provisions.
14 December 2016: Another Maratha morcha was held in Nagpur while the Winter Session of the Maharashtra Assembly was in progress as protests started to spread to various other parts of the state.
9 August 2017: A massive Maratha morcha was held in Mumbai on the 'August Kranti Day'. According to Reuters, the Maratha community had staged about 57 marches over 2016 till 9 August 2017 over their demand for reservation.
29 November 2017: A sessions court in Ahmednagar sentenced to death all the accused in the Kopardi rape and murder case. The issue of reservation, however, continued to rock the Maharashtra Assembly in the Monsoon session in July 2018 as well.
17 July 2018: As a mark of protest, the Maratha associations in Pandharpur decided to not to allow Chief Minister Fadnavis to hold a puja in the area on the occasion of ashadi ekadashi.
22 July 2018: Fadnavis cancelled his trip to Pandharpur but said that his government is in support of Maratha reservation and the decision lies with the court.
Violence grows in Pune, Navi Mumbai
23 July 2018: However, violence spread across the state when a 35-year-old man jumped into the Godavari river in Aurangabad to demand reservation for the Maratha community. Violent protests erupted in Chakan, near Pune, in which at least 90 vehicles were damaged and traffic was disrupted on the Pune-Nashik highway. Violent protests and clashes between protestors and police were also reported in Navi Mumbai and Thane. The police arrested around 20 people for instigating violence in the guise of participating in the Maratha morcha as political blame game continued in the background.
25 July 2018: After two days of violence, the agitation was called off by the Maratha Kranti Morcha coordination committee on the afternoon of 25 July.
31 July 2018: Arson and stone-pelting were reported from parts of Pune in a bid to revive the earlier protests demanding reservation for Marathas.
1 August 2018: Over 100 Maratha activists staged a 'jail-bharo' agitation at Azad Maidan and on 2 November 2018, a hunger strike was planned to be launched by activists belonging to the Sakal Maratha Kranti Mahamorcha.
Meanwhile, the Maharashtra government set up a panel to collect evidence of the socio-economic backwardness of the community and the proposal was sent to the state backward class commission, based on the report from which the government has now decided to go ahead with the proposed reservation for the Maratha community.
18 November 2018: The Maharashtra government announces its decision to accept the commission's report and grant reservation to Maratha community. However, Fadnavis said that the quantum of the reservation will be fixed by the cabinet sub-committee assigned to chalk out technical aspects of the bill which will be tabled in the coming session.
19 November 2018: The Bombay High Court said that it will hear the petition demanding Maratha reservation, on 21 November 2018. Court also asked the Maharashtra government to file a response with the state backward commission report.
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