MUMBAI: The Maratha community here will on Wednesday organise and observe their 58th silent rally, officially called the ‘Marataha Kranti (mook) Morcha’. Important demands including a reservation quota are expected to be raised and all schools located in central and south Mumbai, from where the rally is expected to pass, will be shut.
Expected by organisers to be their biggest rally so far, it will start from Jijamata Udyan at Byculla at 11 am and go on till Azad Maidan near Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus at around 5 pm, organisers have said.
Prime demands include reservation quota in government jobs and education, and amendment to the Prevention of Atrocities Act to prevent its misuse. A demand to implement the MS Swaminathan committee’s recommendations on agricultural is also expected.
Revenue minster Chandrakant Patil had made a formal appeal to the organisers to hold talks last week but was told that they would like to discuss things with the government only after the rally.
“After the gang rape and murder of a 14 year old girl at Kopardi in Ahmednagar district in July 2016, till date 57 Maratha Kranti Morchas have been organised and our demands have been sent to the government. The very first demand we raised was for speedy prosecution in the Kopardi case and death penalty for the accused. After that we started raising issues of reservation for the Maratha community and amendments to the atrocities act. However, the government appears to have taken a lackluster stand over all these issues and that is the reason why we are conducting this mammoth rally here while the Assembly session is on,” said Virendra Pawar, rally coordinator.
“People are expected to come from all districts and around 10,000 peopl have registered from each district,” Virendra Pawar said, adding that Marathas form the 35 percent population of Maharashtra.
Virendra Pawar also said that elaborate arrangements have been made to park vehicles coming to various suburbs in Navi Mumbai and Thane district. Many of the participants are expected to reach Mumbai late Tuesday night and early on Wednesday morning, he said.
“The discipline would be like the 57 rallies conducted so far and will be led by our young girls dressed in black. They will be followed by women and senior men from the community. Young men will be at the end followed by politicians. None of them will utter a word or chant slogans. The rally will convert into a meeting at Azad Maidan which will be addressed by five young girls and then disperse,” Virendra Pawar added.
Like the Maratha rally in Nagpur in December, 2016, several legislators are expected to join in on Wednesday. Senior Congress leader Narayan Rane said that a delegation will call on chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and submit a memorandum of demands after the rally.
Police have beefed up security with over 7,000 personnel deployed on duty. The traffic department too has made arrangements with traffic diversions, closing down some important roads or converting them into one-ways, opening up arterial roads etc, said Mumbai Police spokesperson Rashmi Karandkiar.
Several Muslim organisations including the Maratha Qaumi Ittehad from Pakistan’s Balochistan have supported the rally.Mumbai's dabbawalas and Left parties will also participate, organisers said.