Lakhs of protestors participated in the Maratha Kranti Morcha in south Mumbai on Wednesday demanding reservation in jobs and colleges for the people of the community. The protestors, who marched from Byculla Zoo to Azad Maidan, turned the city into a saffron sea.

People arrived in Mumbai from all over Maharashtra to participate in the silent rally. Armed with saffon Maratha flags and wearing caps of the same colour, the protestors were seen taking over the JJ flyover, which was shut for the day for traffic.

Maratha protestors take over the JJ flyover in Mumbai. Punit Paranjpe/AFP Photo
Sea of protestors participating in the Maratha Kranti Morcha in Mumbai. PTI Photo

As the morcha began at 11 am, the protestors were seen tearing up banners put up by the Shiv Sena. The agitators said they did not want any kind of political interference, PTI reported.

The first Maratha Kranti Morcha was held in August last year, demanding death penalty for the accused in the gang rape and murder of a 15-year-old in Maharashtra’s Kopardi village in 2016. Besides, the protestors have also demanded amendments to the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, quotas for Marathis in government jobs and educational institutes and a minimum support price for farmers, among other things.

Protestors with a Maratha flag in Mumbai during protests. Punit Paranjpe/AFP Photo
People wave Maratha flags as they take part in the protest. Shailesh Andrade/Reuters

Later in the day, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said the demand of the Maratha community for reservation in jobs and colleges has been referred to the backward classes commission. The panel will carry out a study to see the feasibility of the demand, he said.

Besides, the state government granted land and a sum of Rs 5 crore to each district to build hostels for Maratha students. The government also promised Maratha students concessions in fees for 605 courses and interest-free loans up to Rs 10 lakh for self-employment.

Protestors gather outside Chhattrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus railways station. Shailesh Andrade/Reuters
Maratha protestors at Thane station on Wednesday morning. HT Photo