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Maratha youths ending lives as Jarange is creating confusion: OBC quota activist

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JALNA, June 20: The two activists whose indefinite fast over the OBC quota entered the eighth day on Thursday have alleged that Maratha youths are ending their lives due to confusion created by campaigner Manoj Jarange.

They also accused Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde of ignoring their protest.

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Laxman Hake and Navnath Waghmare have been agitating at Wadigodri village in Jalna district demanding that OBC reservation not be diluted.

They are opposed to Jarange’s demand over implementation of the draft notification that recognises Kunbis as “sage soyare” (blood relatives) of Maratha community members. Kunbi, an agrarian group, falls under the OBC category, and Jarange has been demanding that Kunbi certificates be issued to all Marathas, thus making them eligible for quota in government jobs and education.

Hake said the Maratha community might be economically disadvantaged but they are not socially backward. “The reservation criteria pertain to those who are socially backward,” said Hake, suggesting that Marathas should pursue schemes for their economic development with the government.

“Jarange is creating confusion and because of that Maratha youths are committing suicide over reservation. Jarange is comparing Marathas to OBC communities,” Hake said.

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The OBC activists have been demanding the scrapping of the “sage soyare” draft notification.

Hake also alleged that Chief Minister Eknath Shinde was ignoring their protest. “The chief minister has shut his eyes and ears to our protest,” he said.

He said Guardian Minister Atul Save, Rajya Sabha member Bhagwat Karad, and newly elected Aurangabad MP Sandipan Bhumre had met them on Monday not as government representatives but in their personal capacity.

Even Jalna Collector Dr Shrikrishna Panchal, who visited them on Wednesday night, was silent about the government’s attention to their protest.

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Rejecting the charge, the collector told reporters that minister Save had gone to meet the fasting OBC activists on behalf of the chief minister. He said the health condition of the two was deteriorating and they had tried to persuade them to seek treatment.

A team of doctors and a cardiac van (ambulance) have been deputed at the protest site, he said.

The collectors also appealed to OBC members, who have been blocking roads in the district, to stage their protests peacefully and democratically.

Meanwhile, Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi chief Prakash Ambedkar met Hake and Waghmare at Wadigodri to extend his support.

Ambedkar said the government has failed to address the concerns of both Marathas and OBC members. This could lead to a confrontation between the OBC and the Maratha communities, he said.

“No Maratha leader speaks on the OBC protest. They are just watching. There should be efforts to stop (any potential) confrontation. Maratha leaders should come forward to calm both communities,” Ambedkar said.

Jarange had suggested on Wednesday that the state government might be supporting some agitations to avoid addressing the demand for a Maratha quota under the OBC category. (PTI)




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