Maratha Kranti Morcha: Thousands of community members march silently, demanding justice

Mumbai comes to a halt as hundreds of thousands of Marathas begin silent march demanding quota

At least half a million protesters brought Mumbai, India's financial capital, to a standstill on Wednesday as they pressed their demands for reserved quotas in government jobs and college places amid a slumping rural economy.

Mobile toilets, drinking water facilities and medical camps have been set up along the rally route - Byculla zoo to Azad Maidan.

Some of the decisions announced include extending benefits of concessions in fees to 605 vocational courses, so far applicable to OBCs, to Maratha students.

The announcements were made after Fadnavis held a meeting with representatives of the Maratha community, whose demands have received support from nearly the entire political spectrum in the state.

At the Azad Maidan, girls of the Maratha community were seen, delivering speech to show their anger towards the government for not supporting their issues.

However, Fadnavis didn't mention steps being taken on two crucial demands raised by the community - amendments in the SC/ST Atrocities Act and implementation of the Swaminathan panel recommendations.

This is the 58th march of the Maratha community, exactly a year after the first such protest was held in Aurangabad.

Opposition leaders Ajit Pawar and Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil accused Fadnavis of repeating old assurances.

Maharashtra revenue minister Chandrakant Patil spoke to Afternoon Voice and said, "The government is in talks with the Centre to provide assured support prices to the agricultural produce".

Protesters blocked train lines while traffic was halted in many parts of Mumbai.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis Wednesday said his government supports affirmative action policies for the dominant caste.

He said, special hostels will also be set-up for Maratha students at every district headquarter. The opposition members then staged a walkout in protest from the assembly. The announcement of skill development training comes a day after the Centre sanctioned a proposal for the same. Moreover, reservations in government jobs, another key demand, hasn't even been promised. "The case in Kopardi rape and murder is in final stages and the judgment will be announced soon". "It has done nothing in three years, this is nothing but time killing gimmick".

However, with more than five lakh members of Maratha community and an additional 10,000 vehicles likely to enter Mumbai from cities like Pune, Nashik, Kolhapur, Raigad, and Satara, the silent March is expected to cripple the city's traffic mostly during the peak hours.

As regards the reservation, he said that the Bombay High Court had stayed it and has called a report from the Maharashtra State Backward Class Commission.

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