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26 May 2017

Maratha protests to resume from August

The Maratha agitation

The Maratha community is planning to relaunch its protests for reservation in jobs and education. A morcha has been planned on August 9.

An awareness campaign about the morcha will precede it. On June 6, the Akhil Bharatiya Maratha Mahasangh will administer an oath to community members at Raigad to stick to their cause till the end.

Protesters will vow to refrain from violence.

In context

The Maratha agitation

What do the Marathas want?

Among other things, the Marathas are demanding reservation in jobs and education, preventing misuse of the Scheduled Caste and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, and remunerative pricing for farmers. The movement will be complemented by a campaign aimed at discouraging Marathas from accepting dowry.

The rape-murder that ignited the movement


The rape-murder that ignited the movement

Last July, a 14-year-old Maratha girl was gang-raped and murdered in Kopardi, Ahmednagar, allegedly by three Dalits.

The crime acted as a catalyst for widespread protests by the Marathas, the most influential community in the state, which accounts for 32% of Maharashtra's population.

However, a large section, especially youths, believe the power of majority has done nothing to address their unemployment and other issues.

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60 morchas, curfew and internet suspension

Protests reached its peak in September-October 2016. About 60 morchas were held across Maharashtra and outside, including Vadodara, Indore, Belgaum and Bijapur. Lakhs came out. Curfew was declared in at least eight villages and internet services suspended.


The protests brought major issues to the fore

The protests brought to the fore real issues faced by the majority community: majority of farmers committing suicides are Marathas.

The strength of their numbers rattled the government and other groups.

It also brought out the rich-poor divide, highlighting the difference between the privileged Maratha families and the deprived ones.

Why the movement couldn't gain steam


Why the movement couldn't gain steam

Despite strength of numbers, the movement didn't have one identifiable leader who could take up issues with the administration.

It is also doubtful if the government under CM Devendra Fadnavis, a Brahman who faces strong resentment from certain Maratha sections, could establish peaceful negotiations.

The previous Congress-NCP government had announced 16% reservation for them, which the Bombay HC stayed; the SC refused to intervene.


What's next for the agitation?

Previous plans for relaunching of the movement had to be postponed due to examinations and local elections.

The Maratha Kranti Morcha coordinators will meet at Kopardi on July 13 to pay respect to the gang-rape victim before restarting in full steam.

The movement will be complemented by a campaign aimed at discouraging Marathas from accepting dowry.

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