Over the past 12 months, the Maratha community have been airing their concerns in a silent, yet effective, protest.
Over 57 rallies have been held since August last year, when a 14 year-old Maratha girl was brutally raped and murdered in Kopardi in western Maharashtra’s Ahmednagar district in July 2016. The rallies quickly began addressing some of the Maratha community’s long-standing grievances, culminating in increased demand for reservations. ‘Silent Rallies’ have been held in every district of the state, beginning with Aurangabad on 9th August, 2016. So far, having failed to secure their demands, they will be gunning for a final, conclusive protest in Mumbai on 9th August, 2017.
This is the first such protest in Mumbai city which is going to span a considerable portion of the metropolis. Virendra Pawar, chief organiser of the ‘Maratha Silent March’, said preparations for the 58th parade have begun. “The march will start from Byculla Zoo at 11 am and end at Azad Maidan in south Mumbai. It will be a silent march, like all the previous ones we held. Which means no speeches and no slogans,” he added.
The protesters hope the government will take notice and have roped in all members of their community to achieve the same. “The spirit and code of conduct will remain the same as the previous 57 rallies. We will start with girls, then women, senior citizens and conclude with the men,” said an organiser.
Approximately 15 demands have been tabled by the Maratha community, some of which have been conceded to by the government. Numbers for the 58th rally are expected to be over 10,000 as has been the norm for all the other rallies.
What originally began as a demand for the speedy prosecution and levying of death penalty for the accused in the Kopardi rape and murder have quickly been politicised to air long-held concerns. The Maratha community have also demanded reservations in government jobs and assisted educational institutions. The plight of rural farmers have also been addressed with loan waivers, as recommended by the DR Swaminathan commission, being demanded of the government.
As thirty-five percent of the state’s population belong to the Maratha community, the government has taken their concerns seriously. Over the last 12 months, the BJP state government announced a scheme for students under economically backward class, with fee concessions. While the government seems willing to discuss the other points of the protesters, the latter will only meet once their morcha is completed.
To handle the huge numbers on Wednesday, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is planning to use the adjacent Bombay Gymkhana ground along with Azad Maidan. Due to ongoing work on the Mumbai Metro, Azad Maidan is incapable of safely holding more than 10,000 participants. With over 5 lakh people expected to crowd into south Mumbai for the silent march on Wednesday, police and security forces have been versed and prepared for any incidents or mob behaviour.
If you’d like to know more about the Maratha Morcha, please check the below links :
- Facebook page : मराठा क्रांती मोर्चा महाराष्ट्र
- Facebook group : World Maratha Organization (WMO) United Maratha Organisation (UMO)
- Twitter page : मराठा क्रांती मोर्चा
- Instagram page : मराठा क्रांती मोर्चा
- YouTube page : मराठा क्रांती मोर्चा
- Mobile app for Android smartphones : मराठा क्रांती मोर्चा
- Twibbon Campaign to add a small icon on profile picture : मराठा क्रांती मोर्चा