The Maharashtra Police have registered 141 cases in connection with violence in the state by protestors seeking reservations for the Maratha community in education and government jobs, the state police chief said on Wednesday.
The cases were registered between October 24 and October 31. Public property worth nearly Rs 12 crore had been damaged in the state during that period, Maharashtra Director General of Police Rajnish Seth said. He said that 168 people accused in the cases have been arrested.
In Sambhaji Nagar, 54 people were booked and 106 were arrested between October 29 and October 31, Seth said. In Beed district, seven were booked under sections of the Indian Penal Code pertaining to an attempt to murder. Prohibitory orders have been implemented and internet service has been temporarily suspended in parts of Beed, he added.
The Maratha community has demanded quotas in education and government jobs for decades, citing a decline in financial stability following agrarian distress. A series of massive protests were organised to press for the demand in 2017 and 2018.
These demands for the Maratha quota resurfaced in recent months with activist Manoj Jarange-Patil launching a fresh agitation for the cause in September. The fresh agitation has witnessed violence, suicides and the resignation of legislators in support of reservations.
On Monday, a curfew was imposed in parts of Beed and Dharashiv districts after a series of incidents of violence and arson targeting properties of politicians and legislators, PTI reported.
They were booked on various charges, including causing danger to the lives of others and spreading fear among commuters.
After an all-party meeting on Wednesday, Chief Minister Eknath Shinde said it was decided that quotas should be given to the Marathas without tampering with the reservation of other communities in Maharashtra.
“The all-party meeting also expressed its disappointment over the violent incidents reported in the last few days,” the chief minister said. “Such violent acts would be a blot on the Maratha community’s peaceful and disciplined agitation.”
He also urged Jarange-Patil, who has been on a fast since October 25, to withdraw his hunger strike and give the government some time.
This came a day after the Maharashtra Cabinet accepted a panel’s report that found over seven lakh Marathas eligible for the Kunbi caste certificates. The Kunbis are a sub-caste within the Maratha community who are already classified as Other Backward Classes.