Quota demand: Members of Maratha outfits hold protest in Solapur without police nod

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Pune, Jul 4 (PTI) A large number of Maratha quota activists held a protest march without the police permission in Solapur city in Maharashtra on Sunday demanding restoration of the reservation in government jobs and education struck down by the Supreme Court in May this year, on the eve of the monsoon session of the state legislature.

At least 3,000 people participated in the 'Maratha Akrosh Morcha' led by former MLC Narendra Patil, a senior police officer said and added cases will be registered against the organisers for violating the COVID-19 norms. Heavy security was deployed and several key roads leading to Solapur were barricaded by police to prevent members of the pro-Maratha outfits from reaching their protest venue near the statue of Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj in the city. However, despite the heavy security, several protesters managed to reach the venue.

The march started from the statue of Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj and culminated at the statue of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, a distance of one km, followed by speeches made by leaders.

A delegation of members of various Maratha outfits submitted a memorandum of their demands to the district collector.

Solapur Police Commissioner Ankush Shinde told reporters that at least 3,000 people participated in the protest march.

'We would register cases against the organizers for violating the COVID-19 rules and regulations,' he told PTI.

In May this year, the Supreme Court struck down the Maharashtra law granting quota to Marathas in admissions and government jobs.

Talking to reporters at the protest venue, Patil said the government should not underestimate the power of Marathas.

'The Maratha community is known for fighting back adversaries. Marathas are not scared of police's high-handedness and this was evident during today's protest march in Solapur,' said Patil.

'Before the protest march, I had toured all tehsils in the district and met members of the Maratha community and various outfits. I received a huge response from them for the morcha. There will be a backlash if police try to stop members of the Maratha outfits,' he said.

Patil said Maratha outfits will take out similar morchas in other districts of the state, and if denied permission, they will use guerilla tactics and barge into the collectorates.

'The state government should not test the patience of the Maratha youth over the quota as they can enter the assembly during the session,' Patil said.

The police commissioner said heavy security was deployed in Solapur to prevent any untoward incident.

He said the protest march had not been given permission due to the COVID-19 situation.

Solapur BJP MP Jaysiddheshwar Shivacharya Mahaswami, local party MLA Ram Satpute and some party leaders also reached the protest venue.

Alleging that the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government failed to effectively fight the legal battle for the Maratha quota in the top court, the BJP had last month organised 'chakka jam' or road blockade protests across Maharashtra. PTI SPK GK NSK NSK

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