The Maratha community leaders on Wednesday reiterated that they would continue with their scheduled protests in Mumbai and the rest of Maharashtra on August 9.
The Maratha leaders have assured a ‘peaceful’ protest, while asking citizens for their ‘cooperation’.
Latest developments on Maratha protests:
Updates as of 12:30 pm (Thursday, August 9)
As planned, Maratha protestors began their sit-in protest outside the collector’s office in Bandra a little after 11 am today.
The community members were seen raising slogans, but did not cause any disruptions. The protest outside the collector’s office is expected to end at 2 pm.
The Maratha leaders will also be handing over a letter with a list of their demands to the collector today.
Meanwhile, internet services were suspended in parts of Pune to curb rumour mongering.
Updates as of 11:30 am (Thursday, August 9)
A small group of Marathas was seen protesting at Worli Naka around 11:15 am today. The group was protesting peacefully, and in the presence of a police escort.
An insider told Local Press Co that rains have further dampened the group’s efforts.
Updates as of 9:30 am (Thursday, August 9)
* Relatively less traffic on Western & Eastern Express Highways. Other than that, business as usual in most places.
* Trains on Central, Harbour & Western lines are plying smoothly.
* Even BEST and private buses are plying without any diversions.
* Taxis, autos & private cabs are also operational. However, a surge pricing is being levied on most trips.
Has Mumbai bandh been called off?
With several social media posts and media reports claiming that the bandh has been called off, here are the facts:
* Several Maratha Kranti Morcha leaders had exempted Mumbai from the bandh yesterday itself.
* A splinter outfit, Maratha Kranti Mahamorcha, however, said that a peaceful bandh will be enforced in Mumbai. Their supporters may still protest in some areas.
* The divided stand may imply less or no disruptions in Mumbai.
* The forecast of light to moderate showers in the city may also deter protestors.
Updates as of 8 am (Thursday, August 9)
* Since larger Maratha groups had exempted Mumbai from the bandh, the city may see isolated protests in some pockets.
* As of now, no activity has been reported from areas like Dadar, Hindmata, Lalbaugh, Chembur, Andheri, Powai and Malad.
* Trains, buses and taxis are running smoothly.
* Shops in areas like Matunga and Dadar have started to open.
* A sit-in protest at the Deputy Collector’s office in Bandra will start at 11 am.
* As communicated, Maratha groups have exempted Thane and Navi Mumbai from the bandh.
* In the rest of the state, a peaceful bandh will be observed from 8 a to 6 pm. The community has urged members to refrain from violence, vandalism and cooperate with authorities.
Updates as of 7:30 pm (Wednesday, August 8)
Maratha groups divided over ‘bandh’
Per the latest update, the call for a peaceful Maharashtra bandh is still in force.
However, according to an Economic Times report, some Maratha groups have decided to exclude Mumbai from the agitation after a meeting in Aurangabad earlier today. Although a sit-in protest at the Deputy Collector’s office in Bandra from 11 am to 2 pm is expected to proceed as planned.
On the other hand, Amol Jadhav Rao, convenor of splinter group Maratha Kranti Mahamorcha, said that they will stick with their call for a Maharashtra bandh, which will be enforced in Mumbai, but not in Thane and Navi Mumbai.
“It will be a state-wide bandh without any violence. All the essential services, schools and colleges have been excluded from the bandh,” he said.
Sakal Maratha Samaj, an umbrella body of Maratha groups, also said the bandh will be observed across Maharashtra but not in Navi Mumbai and Thane due to the violence that had erupted during the previous protests.
The group, in a press briefing on Wednesday, said that its members will wear black bands and assemble at major junctions in Thane on Thursday. However, there will no rally or raasta roko.
In Pune, the civic body’s Education Officer has already announced a holiday for all private and public-run schools due to the bandh. Most commercial units in Chakan industrial area, which saw incidents of vandalism last time, have also decided to remain closed.
Updates as of 2:30 pm (Wednesday, August 8)
Peaceful protest planned on August 9
Several leaders from Maratha Kranti Morcha (MKM) have assured the state government and citizens that tomorrow’s protests will be peaceful in nature.
In Mumbai, a sit-in protest will take place outside the office of the Mumbai Suburban Collector in Bandra (East), after which leaders will present their list of demands. In Thane, the local unit will hold a rally from Talav Pali to the district collector’s office.
However, rail and road blockages are likely, primarily in cities like Mumbai and on National Highways.
Meanwhile, in a meeting between the morcha coordinators yesterday, it was decided that the protestors, especially youths, will have to exercise restraint. Further, any anti-social element indulging in violence or trying to instigate the crowd will be reported to the police.
One of the coordinators, Shantaram Kunjir, said that efforts were being made to ensure there is no destruction in property unlike previous protests in Navi Mumbai, Solapur, Aurangabad, and others.
Incidentally, one faction led by Amol Jadhavrao has called for a complete shutdown of the city (Mumbai Bandh) for 24 hours, starting midnight. However, there’s no clarity on whether the group will be able to enforce a shutdown without support from the rest of the community.
Citizens unsure of what to expect
While Maratha leaders have categorically said that the protests would be peaceful, they have simultaneously asked citizens to ‘cooperate’ during the shutdown.
“We will request all establishments and the public to cooperate during the shutdown. We will also ensure that agitators do not resort to violence,” Santosh Shinde of Sambhaji Brigade was quoted as saying.
There is also some ambiguity over what type of protest will be held throughout the state.
While most outfits say sit-in protests will be organised, some have called for a complete ‘bandh’ or ‘chakka jam’, especially in cities like Pune and Aurangabad. The only thing common in all scenarios is that emergency services will be allowed to operate.
The spreading of fake news and rumours, like the one about a curfew in Mumbai, may further fuel speculation and lead to chaos.
Additionally, the lack of clarity from the state over whether schools, colleges, offices, public transport etc will be allowed to function tomorrow will pose a serious challenge to most people, who will have to wait till morning to decide if its safe to step outside.
In the absence of an official announcement, many private schools are likely to announce a holiday tomorrow.
Over 2 lakh personnel to be deployed across Maharashtra
The centre has dispatched six companies of RAF and one company of the CISF to deal with tomorrow’s protests. Most of the personnel will be positioned in sensitive areas likes Navi Mumbai, Aurangabad, Nanded and Kolhapur.
Apart from this, over 2,000 Homeguards, officials from the State Reserve Police Force (SRPF) and local police will maintain vigilance. In total, over 2 lakh personnel will be deployed across the state to maintain law and order.
“Central and state forces have been deployed in sensitive pockets. We have also asked the local SPs to engage in dialogue with local leaders to ensure that order is maintained,” ADGP (Law and Order) Parambir Singh said.
Some factions to refrain from protesting
Several smaller factions have decided to not take part in the protests, either in wake of CM’s assurance to complete reservation as quickly as possible or the violence that marred earlier protests.
Abasaheb Patil, who was spearheading the agitation in Beed district, is among those who have decided to not take part in the sit-in protest tomorrow.
Leaders like Narendra Patil and Ankush Kadam from Navi Mumbai are also taking a backseat in view of the riots that broke out in Koparkhairane and Kalamboli last month.
CM’s verbal assurance not adequate
The Maratha groups have said that a verbal assurance, even a televised one, is not enough for them to back down from the protest.
They have asked for a written undertaking from the Chief Minister and the Chief Secretary that the quota would be implemented by November end, before they can even consider withdrawing the scheduled protest.
Maratha Kranti Morcha leaders Raghunath Chitre Patil and Nanasaheb Kute-Patil had also made statements to this effect on Tuesday.
Anger over non-withdrawal of cases against protestors
Many leaders have accused the state of going back on its promise of withdrawing charges of non-serious nature against the arrested youths.
“The state government has not only failed to implement its promises made to the Maratha community before the 2014 assembly elections and in the last four years, but also delayed the procedure of withdrawing police complaints filed against the Maratha youth across the state,” said MKM leader Vinod Pokharkar.
Pokharkar claimed that over 2,000 Maratha youths have been booked under serious charges for taking part in the agitation.
The CM had earlier announced that the government would withdraw non-serious charges against the Maratha youths.
Maratha reservation won’t affect OBC quota
Fadnavis tried to address the unrest in the OBC community over the possibility of including Marathas in their quota on Tuesday.
The CM, speaking at the 3rd national convention of Rashtriya OBC Mahasangh, assured the community that seats meant for OBCs would not be given to any other individual (from non-OBC category).
In addition, he announced a slew of measures like allocating Rs 500 crore to OBC Corporation to bolster employment, recommendation to confer Bharat Ratna on reformers Mahatma Jyotiba Phule and his wife Savitribai Phule, hostels for OBC students in 19 districts among others.
In response to the community’s demand of increasing the quota allotment, the CM said it will be done taken up for consideration in due time.
Maharashtra already has 52% quota – OBCs (19%), Scheduled Castes (13%), Scheduled Tribes (7%), Nomadic, Denotified Tribes & Special Backward Category (13%).
Earlier developments pertaining to the quota demand, Bombay High Court’s appeal to the community, State Backward Class Commission report and CM’s assurance can be found here.View Realtime Updates