Maharashtra govt to drop cases against Maratha quota protesters; CM urges activist Manoj Jarange to end fast
Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde has announced the withdrawal of police cases filed against pro-Maratha reservation protesters in Jalna district, the epicentre of the latest round of stir on the issue, and urged quota activist Manoj Jarange to end his indefinite fast.
He has also announced the suspension of three police officials involved in lathi-charge on quota agitators in central Maharashtra’s Jalna district in the first week of September.
The CM made the announcements on Monday after presiding over an all-party meeting in Mumbai held in the backdrop of the ongoing Maratha quota agitation led by Jarange.
The activist is sitting on an indefinite hunger strike since August 29 at Antarwali Sarati village in Jalna district demanding reservation in government jobs and education under the OBC category for the Maratha community.
Jarange on Monday said he will take a decision on Tuesday afternoon on continuing his hunger strike and asserted he would not succumb to pressure from either the government or the opposition on the quota issue.
CM Shinde told reporters here, “The state government has decided to withdraw police cases filed against Maratha quota protesters. Necessary instructions have been given to officials as well.” “The state government has decided to suspend three police officials who were involved in lathi-charge on Maratha quota protesters,” the CM said.
The police baton charged and lobbed tear gas shells to disperse a violent mob at Antarwali Sarati after protesters refused to let authorities shift Jarange to hospital on September 1. The police had filed cases against more than 360 people for their alleged involvement in the violence.
Shinde said all parties attending the meeting passed a resolution requesting Jarange to withdraw his fast.
“Maharashtra is a progressive state. We want harmony and peace among all communities. All parties passed a resolution requesting Manoj Jarange to withdraw his fast. I personally request him to call off his fast. The state government needs time to complete the procedure to make decisions (on quota issue),” he said.
A five-member panel headed by Judge Sandeep Shinde (retired) has been set up to determine the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP), 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. The committee formed by the state government has got down to work and it needs some time to complete its task, said the CM.
”The Justice Shinde Committee has held its first meeting and has been given one month to submit a report. The government has also agreed to most of the demands made by Jarange. I appeal to the protesting people to end their agitation. Jarange is not making any personal demands…he is doing it for his community, but it will take some time for the (quota) issue to be resolved,” Shinde said.
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