Mumbai, Aug 9: Sakal Maratha Samaj, an umbrella body of Maratha groups, has called a state-wide bandh today to press for the community’s demand for reservation. During the bandh, schools and colleges will remain open. Meanwhile on Wednesday, a Maharashtra government minister said that “nothing can be done” on the demands of Maratha quota protesters till November 15.

Nothing can be done till November 15, the deadline for submission of the report by the Maharashtra State Commission for the Backward Classes which has been tasked with coming up with a time-bound programme on implementing quota for the Maratha community, Revenue Minister Chandrakant Patil said.

The BJP leader told reporters at Miraj in Sangli district that the commission has sought time till November 15 and as a result, the government can’t take any decision regarding the demand of Maratha community for reservation in education and government jobs.

Tomorrow marks the second anniversary of the Maratha mobilisation that started in Marathwada in 2016 and culminated in pro-quota protests across the state.

Last month, Patil had apologised to Maratha bodies over his remarks on the ongoing quota stir, which he said were twisted. The minister had earlier said some ‘paid’ people were trying to defame the agitation by infiltrating it.

On Thursday, the protest would be held in a peaceful manner from 8 am to 6 pm. “It will be a state-wide bandh, excluding Navi Mumbai. All the essential services, schools and colleges have been excluded from the bandh,” Amol Jadhavrao, a leader of Sakal Maratha Samaj told reporters.

Meanwhile, police in Maharashtra are gearing up to prevent violence during the bandh called by Maratha organisations demanding reservations on August 9. Manjunath Shinghe, Mumbai Police PRO, was quoted by ANI as saying that adequate police deployment has been done to ensure peaceful bandh on Thursday.

There would be a heavy deployment of security personnel, especially in sensitive pockets where violence had taken place during the agitation earlier, a senior police official said. Besides, the protests will be videographed. These videos and CCTV footage will help police identify criminals and mischief-mongers who may try to take advantage and indulge in violence.

On Tuesday, the Bombay High Court urged the Maratha community members to refrain from resorting to violence or committing suicide over their demand for reservation in government jobs and education. The HC was hearing a PIL filed by the Maratha Kranti Morcha, seeking quota and directions to the backward classes commission to submit its recommendations to the state on entitlement of such quota expeditiously.

According to police, between July 18 and 27, 276 cases of violence were registered across the state during the quota agitation. There were incidents of stone pelting at over 250 places and 198 incidents of arson. More than Rs 4.5 crore-worth public and private property was damaged within 10 days.

Parts of Maharashtra, especially Koparkhairane and Kalamboli in Navi Mumbai, had witnessed violence during the Maratha quota stir late last month. Around 20 policemen, including eight officers, were injured in stone-pelting by protesters at Kopar Khairane and Kalamboli. A protester, injured in the violence in Navi Mumbai, had succumbed to his injuries.

(Inputs from Agencies)