Chhatrapati Sambhajinagar: Manoj Jarange, the leader of the Maratha reservation movement, has announced that he will launch his third hunger strike in Mumbai from January 20, 2024, to press for the demand of reservation for the Maratha community in education and jobs. Jarange has also said that around one million vehicles carrying essential items for the protesters will leave for Mumbai from various parts of Maharashtra on the same day.
Jarange, who hails from Antarwali Sarati village in Jalna district, has been spearheading the agitation for the Maratha reservation since 2018. He has been mobilizing the Maratha community, which constitutes around 30% of the state’s population, to join the movement and put pressure on the government to fulfill their demand. Jarange told a news channel that he has prepared a detailed plan for the next phase of the movement, which will involve a massive mobilization of the Maratha community to Mumbai.
“Around one million vehicles will leave for Mumbai and will carry the goods that we need. People from nearby districts will reach Antarwali Sarati and then we will march towards Mumbai,” he said. He added that the Maratha community will go to Mumbai in groups, with each group comprising 30-40 thousand people. He said that the protesters will stay in Mumbai until their demand is met by the government.
Indefinite Strike at Azad Maidan
Jarange has also declared that he will start an indefinite strike at Azad Maidan in Mumbai from January 20, 2024, along with thousands of other protesters. He said that he would not eat or drink anything until the government granted reservation to the Maratha community. He said that his hunger strike would be a peaceful and non-violent protest, but he warned that the government would be responsible for any untoward incident that may happen due to his deteriorating health.
Jarange had earlier announced his decision to start an indefinite strike at Azad Maidan on Saturday while addressing a huge rally in the Beed district of Marathwada region in Maharashtra. He claimed that “crores” of people from the Maratha community will come to Mumbai on January 20, 2024, to support his hunger strike and the movement. He also urged the people to maintain law and order and not to indulge in any violence or vandalism.
Previous Hunger Strikes
This will be the third hunger strike by Jarange in his quest for the Maratha reservation. He had gone on his first hunger strike in July 2018, after the Bombay High Court stayed the implementation of the Maratha reservation law passed by the then BJP-led government in Maharashtra. He had ended his hunger strike after 11 days, following assurances from the then Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and other political leaders.
He had gone on his second hunger strike in August 2020, after the Supreme Court stayed the implementation of the Maratha reservation law passed by the current Maha Vikas Aghadi government in Maharashtra. He had ended his hunger strike after nine days, following appeals from the current Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and other political leaders.
Jarange has expressed his dissatisfaction with the government’s handling of the Maratha reservation issue and has accused the government of delaying the matter and not taking effective steps to defend the law in court. He has also criticized the government for not providing adequate relief and assistance to the Maratha community, especially the farmers and the youth, who have been facing various hardships due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic slowdown. He has demanded that the government should provide immediate financial aid, loan waivers, employment opportunities, and educational facilities to the Maratha community, along with the reservation.