Belagavi, Feb 17: Nearly three lakh people participated in the Maratha Kranti Morcha organised by Maratha community in Belagavi, making it a historic gathering, on Thursday. It was the first time the district witnessed such a huge gathering. The event was the 60th Maratha Kranti Morcha in the country and the fourth in the state.
It was organised to urge the governments to include the community in 2A category which will help them get a reservation in education and government jobs. The other demands of the community are abolition of Dalit Atrocity Act, putting up Shivaji Maharaj’s portrait in government offices, including a lesson on Shivaji in school syllabus and giving documents in the Marathi language.
The community has already been included in 2A category in Karnataka. The rally commenced from Shivaji Garden and culminated at Bogarves Circle. Though lakhs of people participated in the event, there were no reports of any untoward incident.
It was a sea of saffron in all roads as every participant held ‘Bhagava’ (saffron) flag and dressed saffron colour outfits. However, a few wore black colour dresses, protesting the inclusion of Belagavi in Karnataka.
Pro-Maharashtrian organisation Maharashtra Ekikaran Samiti made futile attempts to hijack the event by including the border and language issue which was not on the agenda. One among the five student girls who addressed the gathering at Bogarves Circle urged the state government to pass an order for introducing Marathi name boards and issuing documents in Marathi as students like her could not understand Kannada. Police had told organisers not to drag the language and border issue into the event.
The silent protests began in July 2016 after the gang rape and murder of a 15-year-old Maratha girl in the village of Kopardi, Maharashtra, allegedly by Dalit men.
The incident stirred up anger in the Maratha community who argued that the police and media were neglecting the case in the interests of political correctness.
The victim’s family had filed a complaint against the accused, however, Dalits from the village filed a counter complaint of ‘Atrocity Against Dalits’ against the victim’s family. Taking serious note of the complaint of Dalits, the police allegedly beat up the victim’s family during the cremation of the girl and arrested the family members for which Maratha Kranti Morcha started its silent protests.
Lakhs attended the rallies in Maharashtra and Kolhapur town witnessed a record attendance with more than 10 lakh people at the rally.