Maratha Kranti Morcha began exactly a year before when the first march was held in Aurangabad in protest of the brutal rape and murder of a 14-year-old Maratha girl in Kopardi in Ahmednagar district in July 2016.
Since July 2016, 57 marches have been held in different locations across Maharashtra, demanding death penalty to the accused in rape case and reservation for Maratha in education and employment. They are also demanding a complete loan waiver for the poor farmers and increase in the minimum support price for all farm products. These protests are in the form of ‘mook morcha‘ (silent rallies).
The 58th and probably the largest and the last march has been organised by the Sakal Maratha Samaj, an umbrella organisation of several Maratha groups and will begin at 11 am from the BMC’s Jijamata Udyan and culminate at Azad Maidan in south Mumbai on Wednesday. More than 5 lakh members are expected to participate in the rally, people from all over Maharashtra are coming to give their contribution in the silent protest.
Speaking to IBN Lokmat, the leader of the Maratha morcha, Rajya Sabha MP and scion of the Kolhapur royal family Sambhaji Raje said, ” It is important to know what is the end result? What is the output from the protest? This is important to know. In 2014, I brought all leaders of the community together for this cause. Next step is that we need a reservation. My voice is for “Jan jagruti” and like Chhatrapati Shahu helped the lower castes, I feel we must help Marathas too.”
Special arrangements have been done for the rally, keeping in mind the enormous size of it security forces are deployed at regular intervals to ensure the stability of peace during the protest. Also taking account of the traffic of Mumbai, traffic arrangements are made to minimise the inconvenience caused to the local public due to the rally.
Traffic arrangements to minimise inconvenience to citizens, during the silent morcha today from Byculla to Azad Maidan b/w 9 am-5 pm pic.twitter.com/oTvBFJUFe0
— Mumbai Police (@MumbaiPolice) August 9, 2017
Traffic between King’s Circle to CST has been closed as a precaution ahead of the Maratha Kranti Morcha. MSRDC minister Eknath Shinde has also issued orders that no toll will be taken at the five toll nakas across Mumbai today. Not just the road traffic is taken care of but arrangements are made for easier traveling through local trains also. PRO. Central Railway Sunil Udasi informed that extra general coach will be attached to seven long-distance trains and there will be an additional ticket window for issuing tickets. He further added that “We have two rakes in stand-by mode. If required, we will run them as special trains from CSMT (Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Mumbai Terminus) to Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj Terminus (Kolhapur) via Manmad and Karjat routes”.
The rally is getting support not just from Maharashtra but People across the border have also extended their support to it. A group of Marathas, who settled in Balochistan after being defeated in the battle of Panipat, have backed the protest. Wadera Din Muhammad, chief of Maratha Qaumi Ittehad, Pakistan through a facebook post said that “Chief Maratha Qaumi Itehad fully supports this protest. In India, the community is facing injustice. I condemn it strictly. Reservation in government jobs and education should be given to the Maratha community, which is its national right. Disfavour with the community will not be tolerated. We are with it in every protest.”
Also, the dabbawalas who provide daily lunch and dinner tiffins to thousands of working people across Mumbai have left their work for one day and gathered together to participate in the rally.
The Samajwadi Party is also backing the Maratha Kranti Morcha.
Samajwadi Party supports #MarathaKrantiMorcha.I demand Reservation for Marathas as well as Muslim Community as proposed by previous Govt.
— Abu Asim Azmi (@abuasimazmi) August 8, 2017
While the roads of Mumbai are filled with lakhs of protesters carrying forward a silent march the assembly house in Mumbai witnessed ruckus over the issue. NCP leader Ajit Pawar attacking the government said that “Everybody is focused on the morcha. Everyone felt that government will do something in the Khopardi rape and murder case, the Swaminathan committee report will be implemented. Today, we have asked them to stop Question Hour and discuss the Maratha issue. But the government is not interested. A section of government wants to provide reservation. We do not want any politics. We had given the reservation of 16% to Marathas. but now after one year, we have got justice. We want no one to be affected by our reservation.The government is not interested in running the Assembly. But government MLAs were manhandled. The double game by the government won’t be accepted.” Even Shiv Sena MLAs join Opposition in demanding reservation.
Mumbai: Shiv Sena MLAs protest outside Maharashtra Assembly demanding reservation for Maratha community pic.twitter.com/6A4Dxrxzdu
— ANI (@ANI) August 9, 2017
Refreshments are available for the protestors participating in the rally from various parts of the city. Also, there are makeshift washrooms for the activists at Thane Toll Naka.