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PTI Mumbai
Updated: 30-11-2018 19:28 IST

Maharashtra legislature's passage

of a bill granting 16 per cent quota to Marathas in jobs and

education marked the culmination of a 36-year-long movement by

the community that saw many ups and downs and loss of lives.

The bill was passed Thursday unanimously, establishing

wide political support for the measure and also reflecting the

clout of the influential agrarian community.

Community leaders say their long-drawn struggle has

finally paid off, but maintain they will continue their fight

for withdrawal of cases against their members filed when their

agitation turned violent and invited police action.

"The credit for the passage of the bills goes largely

to those who laid their lives for the cause and also to those

who have struggled for it," Ankush Mohite, state coordinator

of the Maratha Kranti Morcha, said.

The Morcha is among the outfits which spearheaded the

Maratha quota agitation.

Mohite said the next step of the protesters is to

ensure that police cases filed against their colleagues at

various places in the state are withdrawn.

Rajendra Kondhare, general secretary, Akhil Bhartiya

Maratha Mahasangh, agreed with him. "Though the bill is

cleared, our battle is still not over," he said.

According to him, the quota agitation claimed around

40 lives in nearly four decades.

The demand for quota for Marathas -- who form 33 per

cent of the state's around 13 crore population - came to the

fore prominently in March 1982 when Annasaheb Patil (28), a

native of Satara district, shot himself, Kondhare said.

"Annasaheb had led a march in Mumbai over the issue.

The government ignored the demand, prompting Annasaheb to end

his life," Kondhare said.

The issue remained on the back burner largely till the

previous Congress-NCP government, ahead of the 2014 Assembly

polls, came out with an ordinance granting reservation to the

community. It was, however, stayed by the Bombay High Court.

The campaign for the quota intensified after a 14-

year-old Maratha girl from Kopardi village in Ahemadnagar

district was raped and murdered in July 2016.

The rape-cum-murder incident triggered an outrage

among the community whose members took to streets and vented

their anger against the stringent SC/ST Atrocities Act (the

accused were Dalits) and demanded justice for the victim.

The demand for justice in the rape-murder case was

coalesced with the large issue of Maratha reservation and the

agitation attracted widespread attention.

Over 50 well-attended 'mook morchas' (silent marches)

were held by Maratha organisations across the state in 2016

and 2017, sending a message to the BJP-led government about

their demand and intention to continue their struggle.

The agitation took a violent turn in July this year

with protesters slamming the government over delay in

fulfilling the demand.

Amid restlessness among Marathas, started another

phase which saw community members taking their own lives in

support of the long-pending demand for quota.

Kakasaheb Shinde, from Aurangabad district, the hotbed

of the latest phase of quota stir, allegedly flung himself to

death in Godavari river over the demand.

Jagannath Sonavane, also hailing from Aurangabad,

reportedly consumed poison and died to press for Maratha


Abhijit Deshmukh (35), who hailed from Beed, allegedly

hanged himself for the cause August 31.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)