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HomemaharashtraActivist Manoj Jarange begins indefinite fast over Maratha quota demand as 'deadline'...

Activist Manoj Jarange begins indefinite fast over Maratha quota demand as 'deadline' before govt ends

Mumbai: Caught between two communities—Marathas and Other Backward Classes (OBC)—over the vexed reservation issue, the problems of the Eknath Shinde-led BJP-Shiv Sena-NCP government mounted further on Wednesday with Jalna-based activist Manoj Jarange-Patil launching yet another fast-unto-death agitation.

The founder of Shivba Sanghatana, Jarange-Patil has been asking the Centre and Maharashtra government to declare Marathas as Kunbis so that the community can get access to reservation for OBCs.

However, the Jarange-Patil’s demand has been met with stiff opposition from the OBCs and also a section of the Marathas, who have asserted that there is a difference between the 96-Kuli-Maratha and Kunbi-Maratha.

In his forties, Jarange-Patil had undertaken a hunger strike from August 29, which he ended on 14 September after assurances from Shinde that the reservation to the Marathas would be given in 30 days time by 14 October based on survey of the Kunbis of Marathwada region from the Nizam-era records. The activist, however, had given the Shinde govt 10 more days till 24 October, which has now ended.

With the deadline now elapsed, Jarange-Patil, from Wednesday morning, started another hunger strike at the Antarwali Sarathi village in the Ambad tehsil of Jalna district located on the Dhule-Solapur Road. “I will not drink water, eat food or take any medicines or get myself examined this time,” he said, intensifying the agitation.

Of the total 52 per cent reservation in the state, SCs and STs account for 13 and 7 per cent, respectively, OBCs get 19 per cent, Vimukta Jati & Nomadic Tribes (VJNT), Special Backward Class and Nomadic Tribes account for 13 per cent.

In May 2021, the Supreme Court had struck down the Maharashtra legislation providing reservation for Maratha community in the Socially and Economically Backward Class (SEBC) category.

To address the issue, Shinde, after consulting his ministerial colleagues including his two Deputy Chief Ministers Devendra Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar, has ensured that a curative petition is filed in the Supreme Court, which was admitted by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and is slated to be listed for hearing in due course of time.

The government is also contemplating extending the tenure of the committee headed by Justice Sandeep Shinde (Retd) which was formed to decide the methodology to issue Kunbi certificates to the community members.

Hours after Jarange-Patil started the hunger strike on Wednesday, the government reached out to him, with state Tourism Minister Girish Mahajan calling him over phone.

On the other hand, Yuvraj Sambhaji Chhatrapati of Kolhapur, the 13th descendent of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj met him at the protest site. While Sambhaji Chhatrapati supported the cause and stood by the agitators he requested Jarange-Patil to drink water which the latter accepted.

(Published 25 October 2023, 09:41 IST)

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