Mumbai, on Wednesday, saw lakhs of people from the Maratha community on the streets who participated in the “mook march” (silent procession).
One might want to know the major reasons behind such a major protest in the city. The silent procession had been organised by the Maratha Kranti Morcha, whose major agenda were to press for their demands which also included serious punishments for culprits of Kopardi rape and murder case. Rest of the demands included redouble reservation in education and government jobs, Amendment in SC, ST (Prevention of Atrocities Act) to stop its misuse, loan waiver to farmers to curb suicides, and guaranteed rate for agricultural produce.
What was the Kopardi case all about? This case in particular relates to rape and murder of a 14-year-old Maratha girl on 13th July, 2016 at Kopardi village in Ahmednagar district.
The case was in equal comparison with the Nirbhaya case of Delhi in view of the grisly brutality involved. The girl went missing for a few hours, after which her mutilated, blood-splattered body was found under a tree in a field. The heinous crime took everyone social and political circles by a shock and led to a brawl in the Maharashtra legislature for two days during its monsoon session in July.
Such a protest is the 58th one on the count and the largest protest march of the Maratha community. It came exactly a year after the first march was held in Aurangabad. So far, 57 “mook morcha” have been held in various parts of the state following the brutal rape and murder of a 14-year-old Maratha girl in Kopardi.
People within the city from all walks of life participated in the protest march, including, students, Government employees and most importantly dabbawalas (lunchbox deliverymen) of Mumbai. The saffron flags waved in the protest created a different air of anguish as well as hope in the eyes of hundreds. According to police, over 2 lakh demonstrators were on city roads and so far no incident of violence has been reported, such was the spirit. Shiv Sena too members too joined the march.
The protest has posed a challenge for the Government and it was termed as Storm of Maratha from all over the state by the organisers. It strategically comes during the ongoing Monsoon Session of Maharashtra legislature, proving a major challenge to the syndicate of BJP-Shiv Sena.
State Government had offered a respite to the community in terms of discussion on the incessant problems. Maharashtra revenue minister Chandrakant Patil, last week appealed to the leaders of Maratha community to discuss their unresolved matters and to seek a solution before holding the rally, before materialising the imminent plan.
Mr Patil said, “The government has taken decisions on most of their demands….We have revised eligibility for economically backward class for the benefit of students by raising annual family income ceiling to Rs 6 lakh from Rs 5 lakh.”
Before the rally would begin and lakhs of people would be on the streets partaking in the “mook protest”, Maharashtra’s Education Minister Vinod Tawde had announced that all educational institutions in south Mumbai would remain shut on Wednesday to ensure students are not inconvenienced during the procession.
Following this announcement, a circular was issued by the deputy director of school education, Mumbai. It read, “Maratha Kranti Morcha has been organised on August 9, 2017 in Mumbai, due to which traffic snarls are likely to occur. There are chances of schools buses getting stuck in these traffic snarls, thus inconveniencing school students. Hence, it is decided that school en route Maratha Kranti Morcha must remain closed.”
In light of the protest march, Police had taken the necessary actions possible. In spite of employing 10,000 policemen on duty, traffic was disrupted, and it came to a halt in many places, while protestors congested the suburban trains.
Meanwhile, Mumbai Police resorted to social media like Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, FM radios and other platforms to provide updates on traffic for people going to work. Also, the rally was continuously monitored through CCTV cameras. Interestingly, in a crowd of over 2 lakh people, no event of crime was reported.
Moreover, Central Railway was supposed to run additional suburban services as per the requirement after 2pm. Sunil Udasi, Chief PRO of Central Railway further informed, “Based on inputs about number of people who will go back to their destinations after the rally, probably after 2pm, we will run additional suburban services as per the requirement, as are run during peak hours.”
Also Read: MARATHA KRANTI MORCHA TO HOLD SILENT PROTEST MARCH IN MUMBAI, TRAFFIC HIT FROM BYCULLA TO AZAD MAIDAN