Pune: The demand for Maratha reservation in government jobs and education under the Other Backward Class (OBC) category sparked protests and demonstrations at different places in Maharashtra on Tuesday. Pro-Maratha Reservation protesters blocked the Mumbai-Bengaluru highway and burnt tires in Pune city, causing traffic disruption for two hours. Police officials gave this information.
The protesters, who belong to the Maratha community, a dominant caste group in the state, are agitating against the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the Maharashtra government’s law granting 16% reservation to Marathas in February this year. They are demanding that the Centre intervene and restore the quota for them.
According to the information received, tires were burnt on the Mumbai-Bengaluru Highway near Navale Bridge in Pune, where a group of protesters blocked the road in the afternoon, raised slogans, and set seven tires on fire. An official from Sinhagad Road police station said. Deputy Commissioner of Police Vijay Magar said, ‘There were long queues of vehicles for at least 15 kilometers on both sides. However, we appealed to the protesters to vacate the way and now vehicular movement has resumed.
The police have also beefed up security outside the residences and offices of Maratha community leaders in Pune, as some of them have been targeted by angry mobs in various parts of the state. Deputy Commissioner of Police (Special Branch) Raja Ramaswamy said, “We have increased security outside the homes and offices of leaders belonging to the Maratha community.”
The Maratha quota agitation has turned violent at several places in the state with protesters vandalizing the residences of ruling party leaders, including BJP MP Sujay Vikhe Patil in Ahmednagar district, Shiv Sena MLA Prakash Abitkar in Kolhapur district and NCP leader Dhananjay Munde in Beed district. Curfew has been imposed in Dharashiv district and parts of Beed district following large-scale violence and arson.
Meanwhile, Maratha reservation activist Manoj Jarange is on an indefinite fast in support of the demand for reservation in Antarwali Sarti village of Jalna district from October 25. He has refused to end his hunger strike until the Centre intervenes and grants reservation to Marathas. He has also appealed to other Maratha activists to join him in his protest.