Maratha quota activist Manoj Jarange on Thursday ended his nine-day indefinite fast, but warned of a bigger agitation if no action was taken in two months on giving reservation benefits to the community. He said he will lead a massive march to Mumbai if no decision was taken within two months and, then, people of Mumbai will not even get vegetables.
His announcement at the fast site in his Antarwali Sarati village in Jalna district came after four state ministers met him and requested him to call off the indefinite hunger strike. Speaking to reporters in Mumbai later, chief minister Eknath Shinde thanked Jarange for calling off the fast.
“I have ended my fast, but the Maratha quota agitation continues. Relay fasts will also continue,” Jarange said, asking the government to decide by December 24. The ministers present told him to extend the deadline to January 2, but he did not budge. A delegation of retired high court judges Sandeep Shinde, MG Gaikwad and some officials also met Jarange, who reiterated his demand for reservation for Marathas across Maharashtra.
He demanded fool-proof reservation and asked the state government to give him its assurance. The ministerial delegation included ministers from all three ruling parties — Shiv Sena, BJP and NCP. It comprised Uday Samant, Sandipan Bhumre, Dhananjay Munde and Atul Save.
Jarange said he will not touch the door of his residence till all Marathas get reservation benefits. He also demanded that a date be fixed to revoke offences registered against Maratha quota agitators. “Why Kunbi caste certificates can’t be given to Marathas even after over 13,000 records were found?” he asked.
Munde said the additional issues raised by Jarange will be taken up through an all-party proposal on December 8 during the winter session of state legislature in Nagpur. “They (government) need 45 to 60 days for various committees to do their work for giving sustainable reservation to the Maratha community. We will meet our people from village to village in the meanwhile. If our demands are accepted, we will sit on the boundary of Mumbai,” he said.
Jarange had said on Wednesday (November 1) evening that he would not be drinking water, after an all-party meeting passed a resolution earlier in the day supporting the demand of quota and appealing him to call off his fast. A day later, he demanded that the government provide enough funds and deploy multiple teams for the survey of the economic and social backwardness of the Maratha community.
“A government order granting Kunbi caste certificates to Marathas should be passed and the word ‘throughout’ (Maharashtra) should be included,” he said. The government has already started the process of giving Kunbi certificates to Marathas from the Marathwada region who can produce old records referring to them or their ancestors as Kunbi.
Kunbi, an agrarian community, gets reservation in the Other Backward Classes (OBC) category. “When other castes are getting reservation benefits, why are Marathas not getting them?” Jarange asked. The delegation members told him that reservation cannot be given “in a day or two”, but the Maratha community will certainly get it.
With inputs from News18