Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde said on Monday that the state government will withdraw all cases against those who held protests earlier this month in the town of Jalna seeking reservations for Marathas, ANI reported.
On September 1, clashes had erupted between the police and those demanding reservations for the community in Jalna. 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 violence had continued on September 2 as more vehicles were allegedly torched by protestors in the district. Several other major cities in Maharashtra, including Solapur, Nanded, Chhatrapati Sambhaji Nagar, and Nagpur, also witnessed protests in support of the reservation demand.
At the time, the police had arrested 40 people and registered a case against 600 persons in connection with the violence in Jalna.
On Monday Shinde said that it is the state government’s priority to prove that the Maratha community is backward on social and educational grounds to ensure that it gets reservation.
“We do not want to cheat anyone by taking any [weak] decision,” the chief minister said, reported PTI. “A decision which we take must stand the legal test. The government’s stand is that reservations given to the Maratha community must be foolproof.”
An all-party meeting to discuss the demand for reservation was held in Mumbai on Monday. Shinde said that during the meeting, the leaders of all parties urged Maratha leader Manoj Jarange-Patil to call off his hunger strike. Jarange-Patil has been on a fast since August 29.
Shinde said that the state government will provide reservation for Marathas, while ensuring that other communities do not face any injustice. He added that the government does not support the police action of baton-charging protestors.
In 2018, the Maharashtra government, which was headed by Bharatiya Janata Party leader Devendra Fadnavis at the time, 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 the 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.
Last week, the state government announced that Kunbi caste certificates would given to Marathas hailing from the Marathwada region who have documents from the Nizam era identifying them as Kunbis.
The Kunbis in Maharashtra are part of the Other Backward Classes category. If the government gives Marathas caste certificates as Kunbis, it would mean that they would be counted as OBCs and can avail reservation earmarked for the category.