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Mumbai comes to standstill as 900,000 Marathas protest over reservations

Members of the Maratha community gathered at Mumbai's Azad Maidan for their 58th protest in a year. Photograph: (ANI)

WION Web Team Mumbai, Maharashtra, India Aug 09, 2017, 10.34 AM (IST)

As many as 900,000 protesters of Maharashtra's Maratha community descended upon capital Mumbai today (August 9) to press their demands for reserved quotas in government jobs and college places for students.

Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said today that his government is in favour of reservation for Marathas and that their demands for reservation had been forwarded by the Bombay High Court to the OBC (Other Backward Classes) Commission. 

The OBC Commission will submit its report to the Bombay High Court.

The government's ability to take action is limited since the state has already exceeded the quota of 50 per cent for reservation in jobs and college seats fixed by the Supreme Court. 

The  Maharashtra Chief Minister, however, announced land and grant of Rs 5 crore to build hostels for students from the Maratha community in every district state assembly. He also announced sops like scholarships for 605 educational courses along the lines for OBC students.

He also met representatives from the Maratha Kranti Morcha and leaders from all political parties.

The Maratha protest was free of incidents of violence, police said, with more than 10,000 policemen on guard.

Young people and senior citizens waved saffron flags, disrupting traffic and straining the railway network. 

The city's famed dabbawalas, who deliver packed lunches to hundreds working in offices across Mumbai, suspended operations for the day, as did schools in the affected
area.

It was the Maratha community's concluding protest of a series of 57 marches across Maharashtra since last year.

The Marathas constitute 33 per cent of Maharashtra's population.

Rising unemployment and falling farm incomes are driving farming communities across India, from the state of Haryana in the north to Gujarat in the west, increasing calls for reservations in jobs and education.

"Farming is no longer profitable and jobs are not available," said one protester, Pradip Munde, a farmer from Osmanabad, 400 kms from Mumbai. 

"Reservation can ensure us better education and jobs," he said.

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