Maratha quota demand: Activists to launch hunger strike at Mumbai's Azad Maidan on 2 November

Activists belonging to the Sakal Maratha Kranti Mahamorcha have decided to launch a hunger strike in Mumbai from 2 November against the Maharashtra government over their demand for reservation in government jobs and education, reported The Times of India.

The activists have planned to go on a strike at the Azad Maidan. The group is also demanding the withdrawal of cases registered against Maratha youth for their participation in the recent agitation in the state.

 Maratha quota demand: Activists to launch hunger strike at Mumbais Azad Maidan on 2 November

File image of people participating in a Maratha community protest march in Mumbai. PTI

The politically influential Marathas, who constitute around 30 percent of the state's population, have been demanding 16 percent reservation in government jobs and education.

The agitation, which has been going on for two years now, took a violent turn this year following the death of a youth on 23 July. By the end of the month, at least six people had committed suicide allegedly over the reservation demand.

On 31 July, arson and stone-pelting was reported from parts of Pune. The police had said that it booked "4,000 to 5,000 people" for the violence and claimed the protests had caused loss of property to the tune Rs 10 crore.

On 1 August,  over 100 Maratha activists staged a 'jail-bharo' agitation at Azad Maidan. They later courted arrest and were whisked away in police vans.

Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis assured that all constitutional obligations in connection with granting reservations to the Maratha community would be completed by the end of November. He further asserted that "sincere and genuine" efforts were being made to address the community's grievances which had prevailed for years.

However, various Maratha groups went ahead with their plan to hold a state-wide shutdown on 9 August — celebrated as August Kranti Day — to intensify the stir. Though Maratha Kranti Morcha and Sakal Maratha Samaj had issued a "code of conduct" to the supporters to ensure a violence-free shutdown, it turned violent in places like Pune and Aurangabad with incidents of arson, road blocks and clashes with the police.

Protesters rallied on the streets of Mumbai, seriously disrupting road and rail traffic.

According to Reuters, the Maratha community had staged about 57 marches over the past year till 9 August over their demand for reservation.

The Maharashtra government had set up Maharashtra State Backward Class Commission to recommend whether or not the members of the Maratha community should be given any reservation. The commission is likely to submit its report by 15 November.

With inputs from agencies

Updated Date: Oct 18, 2018 21:52:24 IST