Maratha quota protesters, police clash in Jalna | Mumbai News

Maratha quota protesters, police clash in Jalna | Mumbai News

An agitation for Maratha reservation in Maharashtra’s Jalna turned violent after protesters clashed with police and allegedly pelted stones on them, leading to lathicharge and use of teargas by the police on Friday. While around 20 protesters were injured during the clash at Antarwali Sarathi village in Ambad tehsil, the police claimed as many as 37 police personnel were injured, including an additional SP as the protesters pelted stones and torched four police vehicles.

Chief Minister Eknath Shinde ordered an inquiry into the incident.

Over the last few days, hundreds of protesters, led by one Manoj Jarange, a local Maratha leader, have been sitting on a hunger strike at Antarwali Sarathi village demanding reservation for the Maratha community in education and government jobs.

According to the police, the incident took place between 6 pm and 8 pm on Friday. “The protesters suddenly turned violent and started pelting stones at us injuring some of our personnel. Many protesters also sustained injuries,” an officer said, adding that 37 policemen, including an additional SP and two deputy SPs and 32 constables. “Four private vehicles belonging to the policemen were also torched by the protesters,” the officer said.

As the situation turned violent, the police said it had to resort to lathicharge to control the mob and contain the situation. They said they were able to control the situation by 8 pm.

Meanwhile, the protesters were seen blocking roads in different parts of the city. “We are in the process of registering an FIR against the protesters,” said Jalna SP Tushar Doshi.

The police said the culprits would be identified from CCTV camera and other video footage.

Speaking on the incident, Shinde said on social media platform X (earlier Twitter), “The incident of lathicharge on the Maratha reservation protesters is unfortunate. I have taken information of the incident from the district collector and the police superintendent and have ordered an inquiry into the matter. I appeal to the people to maintain peace.”

Later in the evening, Deputy Chief Minister and Home Minister Devendra Fadnavis said the government requested the protesters to withdraw their protest. “We are taking up the reservation matter seriously and we are taking up the case in the Supreme Court. The issue is such that it cannot be resolved in a day,” he said. Calling the incident unfortunate, he reiterated that after the protesters started pelting stones, the police had to resort to lathicharge.

The issue took a political turn during the day with opposition leaders across parties slamming the state government.

NCP chief Sharad Pawar criticised Fadnavis over the issue stating that he could not handle the situation properly.

Speaking on the incident, even Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar sympathised with the protesters. “Maratha community’s demand for reservation is just and legal. We support every peaceful agitation anywhere in the state for this demand. People of the state too support it. Prima facie the police have used force on protesters. The police action will be probed impartially and action will be taken against guilty police personnel,” he said.

Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Aaditya Thackeray also slammed the government over the police action against the protesters saying the lathicharge is outrageous and that it has become impossible to protest for one’s own rights in Maharashtra. Reacting to the lathicharge, Maharashtra Congress chief Nana Patole said the government must vacate the chair if it cannot give reservation to Marathas.

“We condemn the lathicharge on Maratha protesters who were demanding reservation. If this state government of three parties is unable to give reservation then it must be thrown out. The BJP does not want to give reservation to Marathas. We demand that the 50% cap on reservation limit should be removed,” said Patole.

The Congress leader said that the central government must take immediate steps to ensure reservation is given to the community.

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Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan demanded an apology from Fadnavis and called for his resignation. He said, ”Fadnavis must not only apologise to the people of Maharashtra but should take full responsibility as he is the Home Minister of the state. Fadnavis should immediately resign from his post, he has no moral right to remain the Home Minister and Deputy Chief Minister.”

Sanjay Raut, chief spokesperson of Shiv Sena (UBT), also criticised Fadnavis. “The orders for the cruel lathicharge must have been given by Home Minister Devendra Fadnavis. Without his orders, the police would not go to extreme levels. What wrong did the protestors do? They were only protesting peacefully, yet they were lathicharged. This fire will fan across the state…Fadnavis has no moral right to continue in office,” Raut said.

NCP MP Supriya Sule also targeted Fadnavis, highlighting that the Jalna incident reflects the failure of the Home Ministry led by Fadnavis. “The Home Ministry has failed, it is at fault….the intelligence bureau has failed. Fadnavis has let down the people of Maharashtra. I strongly protest the cruel police lathicharge on the protestors… The protest was peaceful but the government acted in a cruel manner,” Sule said.

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