Maratha quota leader Jarange Patil ready to call off 12-day-long hunger strike but on five conditions

"I have made it clear to the state government that after the one month it sought, it will have to start issuing Kunbi caste certificates to the Maratha community," Manoj Jarange Patil said. 
Maratha quota activist Manoj Jarange. (Photo | IANS)
Maratha quota activist Manoj Jarange. (Photo | IANS)

Maratha quota leader Manoj Jarange Patil on Tuesday said he was ready to call his strike off for a period of one month but said that he had five conditions for the Maharashtra government.

Jarange, aged around 40, has been on an indefinite hunger strike since August 29 at Antarwali Sarati village in Jalna district of central Maharashtra, more than 400 kms from Mumbai demanding reservation in jobs and education under the Other Backward Classes (OBC) category for the Maratha community.

“Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, and DCM Ajit Pawar asked for a month-long period to complete the report on Maratha reservation, therefore, I decided I will call off the strike for a month," Patil said.

"I have made it clear to the state government that whether its report is positive or negative, it will have to start issuing Kunbi caste certificates to the Maratha community," he added.

"If the state government fails to give the reservations to the Maratha community, then after a month, I will again resume this hunger strike,” Patil said at a gathering, warning the government that if they went against their word, he would "not allow any ministers of the incumbent government to roam freely in the state."

The state government has set up a five-member panel headed by Judge Sandeep Shinde (retired) to determine the Standard Operating Procedures, including legal and administrative framework, for giving caste certificates to Maratha community members referred to as Kunbis (part of OBCs now) in Nizam-era documents.

This will allow Marathas from the Marathwada region to avail quota benefits under the OBC category.

Marathwada region comprises eight districts - Aurangabad, Beed, Hingoli, Jalna, Latur, Nanded, Osmanabad and Parbhani.

The leader said that he would not vacate the protest venue and he would also not see the faces of his family members until the report on Maratha reservation was ready.

Jarange, who has become the face of the Maratha quota protest, laid out the five conditions for the government: “The first condition is irrespective of findings of the retired judge-appointed committee, after a month, the state government should give reservations to the Maratha community, and start issuing caste certificates as well. The second condition is the police cases filed against the Maratha community should be withdrawn while the third condition is the police officers who were guilty of police lathi-charge and firing, should be suspended immediately, while the fourth demand is in order for me to call off my hunger strike, the chief minister, deputy chief ministers, and the entire Cabinet should be present at the strike venue. And last but least demand is that the chief minister should give me this assurance in writing, then only I will call off my hunger strike,” Patil stated.

Patil added that the officials should visit him in Jalna only if they were ready to accept his five demands.

“I appeal to Marathas and other communities who are supporting Maratha reservation to continue their protests in different parts of the state. If farmers could continue their protest for eight months in Delhi, then a one-month period is not big for us. Unless Marathas gets reservations, I will not go home,” Patil asserted.

He added that the Maratha community should have faith in his protest and requested people to not do anything to tarnish the protest and the demands of their community.

Chief Minister Eknath Shinde on Monday presided over an all-party meeting in Mumbai held in the backdrop of the ongoing Maratha quota agitation led by Jarange. Shinde later said all parties attending the meeting passed a resolution requesting Jarange to withdraw his fast.

The CM has also announced the withdrawal of police cases filed against pro-Maratha reservation protesters in Jalna district, the epicentre of the latest round of stirs on the issue.

He also announced the suspension of three police officials involved in lathi-charge on quota agitators in Jalna earlier this month.

On Tuesday, state minister Sandipan Bhumre and Shiv Sena leader from Jalna Arjun Khotkar met Jarange and shared the resolutions passed at the all-party meeting. Hindutva leader Sambhaji Bhide also met and requested him to withdraw his fast.

(With PTI inputs)

Related Stories

No stories found.

The New Indian Express