Youth Jumps to Death in River During Maratha Quota Stir, Outfits Call for Maharashtra Bandh Today
Protesters refused to take possession of Kakasaheb Shinde’s body and demanded the chief minister's resignation. They also blocked the Ahmednagar-Aurangabad highway and damaged a dozen vehicles.
File photo of a protest by the Maratha Kranti Morcha. (AP)
Aurangabad: The agitation by the Maratha community for reservation in government jobs and education took a tragic turn on Monday after a 27-year-old protester jumped to his death in Godavari River.
Kakasaheb Shinde, a resident of Kaygaon village in Aurangabad district, jumped off a bridge over the river, police said. He was rushed to a nearby hospital where he was declared dead.
The incident came a day after Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis said he was cancelling his visit to a temple in Pandharpur as protesting Maratha outfits threatened to disrupt the event.
Shinde’s death triggered a fresh set of protests in several parts of Maharashtra, with opposition leaders seeking to put the onus on the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government in the state.
Protesters blocked the Ahmednagar-Aurangabad highway and damaged a dozen vehicles, including a police van and a bus, in Gangakhed tehsil of Parbhani district.
They refused to take possession of Shinde’s body and demanded Fadnavis’s resignation. They also held a sit-in protest at the Gangapur police station in Aurangabad district, demanding that a criminal case be filed against the chief minister.
Maratha outfits also announced a bandh across the state, except in Satara, on Tuesday to protest against the incident. Seeking immediate announcement of reservations for the Maratha community, the protesters also sought a compensation of Rs 50 lakh for Shinde’s family.
The Maratha Kranti Morcha, which led Monday’s ‘jal samadhi’ protest in which Shinde died, is leading the agitation seeking reservations for the community. In the last few days, protests have taken place in Buldhana, Akola, Parali, Washim and even in Mumbai.
Congress MLA Nitesh Rane blamed the Fadnavis government for the death of the protester, while NCP leader Sunil Tatkare said Shinde’s death should serve as a warning to all concerned to handle the stir with caution.
BJP’s Rajya Sabha member Sambhaji Chhatrapati said, “The issue of Maratha reservations is of utmost importance. The chief minister should not ignore it.”
Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee president Ashok Chavan said, “The Fadnavis-led government is engaged in an attempt to paint the protesting Maratha community members as criminals and this attempt is infuriating.”
The community leaders had earlier taken out several rallies in various districts to highlight their demands. Last year, a huge rally was organised by the Maratha Kranti Morcha in this connection in Mumbai. Despite assurances from Fadnavis to fulfil the demands, nothing concrete has been done till now, community leaders claimed.
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