Sakal Maratha Samaj, an umbrella organisation of Maratha groups, on Wednesday said a day-long shut down would be observed across Maharashtra, except Navi Mumbai, on Thursday to demand reservation for the community.
“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 said.
Jadhavrao said the protest would be held in a peaceful manner from 8 am to 6 pm and urged his fellow Maratha youths to desist from committing suicides.
Jadhavrao also said committing suicide would not help the community and its cause.
In view of the bandh, authorities ordered closure of schools and colleges on Thursday in some areas, fearing violence.
Pune District Collector Naval Kishore Ram in an order said roads might be blocked and the possibility of stone-pelting on vehicles and arson cannot be ruled out.
“Even if there is no untoward incident during the protest, roads might be blocked and we don’t want students to be inconvenienced and parents to be anxious unnecessarily,” PTI quoted Naval Kishore Ram as saying.
Meanwhile, Revenue Minister Chandrakant Patil said nothing could be done on their demand 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,” Patil said.
The Maratha community, which constitutes around 30 per cent of Maharashtra’s population, had been agitating to press their demand for reservation in jobs and education under the OBC category.
According to the police, 276 cases of violence were registered across the state during the quota reservation stir between July 18 and 27. There were incidents of stone pelting at over 250 places and 198 incidents of arson.
Property, including both public and private, worth more than Rs 4.5 crore was damaged within those 10 days, police said.
The Bombay High Court on Tuesday appealed to members of the Maratha community to refrain from resorting to violence or committing suicide over their demand for reservation in government jobs and education.
Thursday marks the second anniversary of the Maratha mobilisation, which started in Marathwada in 2016 and culminated in pro-quota protests across the state.
(With Inputs from PTI)