On Saturday, activist Manoj Jarange concluded his indefinite fast over the Maratha quota issue after the government accepted his demands. Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde announced that until the Marathas secure reservation, they will receive all the benefits enjoyed by the Other Backward Classes (OBCs).
Jarange initiated his fast in Vashi, Navi Mumbai, on Friday, amid a significant turnout of supporters. The activist had embarked on a protest march from his hometown in Jalna district, intending to stage a hunger strike at Azad Maidan in South Mumbai starting January 26.
Protesters reached Vashi on Friday, making an overnight stay due to the Mumbai police's notice stating that no ground in the city could accommodate the large gathering. During his address on Friday, Jarange warned of entering Mumbai for the planned protest at Azad Maidan if their demands were not met by night.
The government made efforts to dissuade Jarange from proceeding to Mumbai, engaging in talks with delegations sent to negotiate with him. Overnight, the government drafted an ordinance addressing the demands.
On Saturday morning, the government issued a notification recognizing as Kunbis all blood relatives of Maratha community members whose Kunbi caste records were identified. The Kunbi community falls under the OBC category.
Jarange announced the withdrawal of his agitation, stating that the government had accepted all his demands. Chief Minister Shinde arrived at the protest venue and, after discussions, Jarange accepted a glass of juice from the CM, ending his indefinite fast.
CM Shinde declared that Marathas would receive all the rights and benefits enjoyed by the OBCs until they secure reservation. The committee tasked with examining Kunbi records among Marathas will be extended, and measures have been taken to identify and verify Kunbi lineage among the community.
Jarange expressed satisfaction with the government's response, emphasizing that all blood relatives of Maratha applicants with identified Kunbi records should receive Kunbi caste certificates. He warned against provoking conflict between Marathas and OBCs and stressed the government's responsibility to ensure the smooth implementation of the notification.
"If this doesn't happen, I will come to Azad Maidan Mumbai to begin my hunger strike," Jarange stated, highlighting his commitment to the cause if the government fails to uphold its promises.
(With Agency Inputs)