Following the violence in Jalna district, Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde on Sunday said that his government is committed to providing reservation to the Maratha community in education and government jobs, reported PTI.
“We will not sit quiet until the community get its due reservation,” Shinde told reporters. “Till the Maratha community gets reservation, the government schemes that are already in place will continue and deserving people from the Maratha community will benefit from it.”
On Saturday, Shinde had appealed for peace in Jalna, where clashes had erupted between the police and those demanding reservations for the Maratha community on Friday. The protest is led by Manoj Jarange, a local Maratha leader, who had been on a hunger strike in Antarwali Sarathi village.
Several persons, including 40 police personnel, were injured as protestors threw stones and police used batons and teargas on them. Over 15 state transport buses were set on fire. The police have so far booked 360 persons in connection with the violence, according to PTI.
The violence continued on Saturday as more vehicles were allegedly torched by protesters in the district. Several other major cities in Maharashtra, including Solapur, Nanded, Chhatrapati Sambhaji Nagar and Nagpur, have also witnessed protests in support of the reservation demand, according to The Indian Express.
In 2018, the then Devendra Fadnavis-led government in Maharashtra had approved 16% reservation for the Marathas in jobs and education after statewide protests. In 2019, the Bombay High Court upheld the decision but said that 16% quota was not justifiable.
In 2020, the Supreme Court stayed the decision. A year later, a larger bench of the Supreme Court quashed the reservation, calling it unconstitutional.
On Saturday, Shinde said that he had requested Patil to withdraw the agitation.
“During the protest, the condition of Jarange Patil deteriorated, Collector and SP [Supreintendent of Police] went there because they were worried about his condition,” Shinde said, according to ANI. “They were requesting that Jarange Patil should be admitted to the hospital. However, this unfortunate incident [violence] happened at that time.
Meanwhile, Opposition leaders in Maharashtra blamed Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis for the violence in Jalna, reported The The Indian Express.
Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar, who visited the district on Saturday, said that his party will raise the demand for a caste census and remove the 50% cap on reservation in Parliament.
Former Maharashtra Chief Minister and Shiv Sena (UBT) president Uddhav Thackeray alleged that police could not have acted on their own.
“I refuse to believe that the same police who sensitively handled worst of crisis like Covid-19 can be this brutal,” Thackeray said. “There must be someone who is behind this. Police cannot do this without orders.”