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Security Beefed Up For Ministers As Agitation Seeking Reservation For Maratha Community Intensifies

On Monday, the agitation by the Maratha community, who want to be classified as Other Backward Classes (OBC) and receive quota in government jobs and education, turned violent. The situation in Maharashtra remained tense even after a day.

Increased security has been placed outside the homes of Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and his ministers. This comes after irate demonstrators set fire to three MLAs’ homes on Monday.

In order to stop the violence, the authorities have also implemented preventative measures in the districts of Beed and Jaland.

The Mantralaya, the chief minister’s mansion, the homes of other ministers and officials, and the Maharashtra political party offices all saw increased police presence.

“There is heavy deployment of police outside the offices of political parties, including the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Eknath Shinde-led Shiv Sena, Uddhav Thackeray-led faction of the Shiv Sena, the Ajit Pawar-headed Nationalist Congress Party in south Mumbai,” an official was quoted as saying by news agency.

Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis condemned violence and arson by quota protesters. “The state government has identified 50 to 55 people involved in the violent incidents in the last few days. They attacked houses of certain people and members of certain community. Houses of some MLAs were torched and hotels as well as some institutions were also targeted. It is absolutely wrong,” Fadnavis said.

In five Marathwada districts, Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation bus services have been entirely discontinued. According to an MSRTC official, bus services have been partially disrupted in Beed, Chhatrapati Sambhajinagar, and Solapur districts, but have been fully suspended in Parbhani, Dharashiv, Latur, Jalna, and Nanded districts for the past three to four days.

Tuesday saw the suspension of internet access in the Jalna district as a preventative measure against the agitation-related propagation of misinformation about violence and burning. Manoj Jarange, a Maratha quota activist, initiated an indefinite fast in the Jalna area.

Tuesday saw the continuation of the preventive measures put in place the day before, in response to violent and arsonous episodes in Beed district, which led to the imposition of a curfew. “There is no decision on relaxation of curfew and restoration of the Internet as of now,” a senior police official said.

In Nanded district, agitations on roads and highways are prohibited. The district collector has reportedly banned “rasta roko” (road blockade protests) and demonstrations on state and national highways in addition to local routes.

On Wednesday morning, Eknath Shinde, the chief minister of Maharashtra, held a meeting of all parties. Eknath Shinde will inform opposition leaders of the government’s intentions to address the state’s condition and solicit their cooperation, according to a Chief Minister’s Office official.

According to state minister Chandrakant Patil, the Maharashtra Cabinet recommended on Tuesday that the state Backward Commission conduct a survey and gather information to ensure that the curative petition submitted to the Supreme Court is “error-free” and that the state’s Maratha community be granted reservation.

In support of Maratha quota, activist Manoj Jarange has said that the Maratha community will not tolerate a “incomplete reservation” and that the state administration ought to convene a special session of the state legislature to discuss the matter. Jarange is now on an indefinite hunger strike. “I have spoken to Chief Minister Eknath Shinde…I have made clear my stand once again that an incomplete reservation for the Marathas is not acceptable. The government should announce reservation for the Marathas in the entire state. We (Marathas across the state) are brothers and have a blood relation,” Jarange said.

In order to resolve this matter, the leaders of the opposition pleaded with the government to summon a special session of the state assembly. Uddhav Thackeray, the leader of the Shiv Sena (UBT), urged on Tuesday that reservations be granted to the Maratha and Dhangar populations as well.

“The Centre ought to handle this matter. The Lok Sabha is the sole body that can decide this. “The government ought to convene a special session of Parliament to address this matter, as I have been stating time and time again,” Thackeray declared.

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