PUNE: Over 1,000 members of various Maratha outfits gathered in Maharashtra's Solapur city on Sunday, despite no permission from police, to take part in a protest march over their demand for reservation in government jobs and education.
The Solapur police have denied permission for the protest march, named as the 'Maratha Akrosh Morcha', led by former MLC Narendra Patil.
Heavy security was deployed and several key roads leading to Solapur were barricaded by police to prevent members of the pro-Maratha outfits from reaching their protest venue near the statue of Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj in the city.
However, despite the heavy security, several protesters managed to reach the venue.
In May this year, the Supreme Court struck down the Maharashtra law granting quota to Marathas in admissions and government jobs.
Talking to reporters at the protest venue, Patil said even if the police deny permission for their march and put up barricades, members of the Maratha outfits will take part in the protest march in large numbers.
"Before the protest march, I had toured all tehsils in the district and met members of the Maratha community and various outfits. I got a huge response from them for the morcha. There will be a backlash if police try to stop members of the Maratha outfits," he warned.
Patil said he was earlier hopeful that the Solapur police would give them permission to take out the morcha.
But, the way they have deployed security, "it seems there will be some conflict with police during the protest", he said.
"This time, we informed the police about the protest and sought permission. But, if anything untoward happens from the police side during the march, the future protest march will be carried out without any permission. If you (police) want to register offenses, we have no issues," he said.
Solapur City Commissioner of Police Ankush Shinde said the protest march has not been given permission due to the COVID-19 situation.
"Anticipating that a large number of members (of the Maratha outfits) will come to Solapur for the morcha, we deployed heavy security in the city. We will try to stop the march and take appropriate action," said Shinde.
He said by 11 am, 1,000 to 1,500 people gathered at the venue for the protest march.
Solapur BJP MP Jaysiddheshwar Shivacharya Mahaswami, local party MLA Ram Satpute and some party leaders also reached the protest venue.