Mumbai, July 24: The Maratha groups on Monday called for Maharashtra Bandh on July 24 after a 27-year-old protester jumped into Godavari river over his demand for reservations for the Maratha community and subsequently drowned. The state-wide bandh has been called to protest against the government for not keeping their promises of reservation for Maratha community in government jobs and education.
Even though a bandh has been called, BEST bus and local train services will continue to operate normally throughout the day. The Maratha groups have assured a peaceful protest saying that the protesters will not cause any problems to the general public, transport and emergency services in the state. The group has however warned that if the government fails to fulfill their promises in next two days, it (the protest) will turn violent.
During the ‘jal samadhi agitation’ by various Maratha groups at Kaigaon in Sillod, Kakasaheb Dattatreya Shinde leaped into the river demanding reservations from the government. Despite his own efforts and by rescue teams to save him, Shinde failed to survive the raging river energized by the severe spell of monsoon in recent weeks.
The Maratha group held the Maharashtra government responsible for Shinde’s death. The protesters said that had the government kept its promises of reservation to the Maratha community, Shinde would still be alive. His death was followed by protests in several parts of the state with the protesters blocked the Mumbai-Pune and Ahmedabad-Aurangabad highway and damaged several vehicles, including a police van and a bus, in Parbhani district.
Shinde’s death came a day after Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis bowed out from performing the customary official puja at the famed Lord Vitthal and his consort Rukmini’s Pandharpur Temple, Solapur district on the auspicious ‘Ashadi Ekadashi’ day. Fadnavis, at the last minute, decided against leading the puja celebrations, following widespread protests and threats by various Maratha community associations and groups demanding reservations.