Mumbai (The Hindu): After two months of silent rallies across the State, the Maratha agitation reached Mumbai on Sunday with a bike rally through the heart of the city. Protest organisers claimed 50,000 bikers participated in the rally, which they termed as a ‘warm-up’ to a much bigger one planned in Nagpur during the winter session of the Legislative Assembly.
The rally, which set off from K.J. Somaiya ground in Sion at 10 a.m, ended near Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus station around 12.30 p.m. after covering a 12-km stretch through Matunga, Dadar, Parel, Lalbaug and Byculla.
Organising committee member Virendra Pawar said the bike rally was just the starting point. “We had expected the participation of 15,000 bikers, and were overwhelmed by the response. Next up is a drawing exhibition depicting Maratha agony at Shivaji Park, with work by by people across the State,” he said, adding exhibition dates will be declared in the coming week.
Mr. Ghag added that a maha morcha will be held in Mumbai if the government doesn’t agree to their demands during the winter session. He said this rally will see people from far-flung districts participating. “For today’s Janjagruti rally, we had formulated a code of conduct which had to be followed strictly each participant. This included mandatory helmets for riders and turbans for pillion riders, strictly no honking and jumping traffic signals.”
Mumbai Police spokesperson DCP Ashok Dudhe said the rally was held peacefully and all rules and regulations were followed.
Pressure on district collectors
The agitating Maratha organisations will follow up on demands submitted to district collectors at places where silent marches were held. Mr. Pawar said, “Every day, a fresh group of 100 Maratha men and women will visit the collector, seeking action on demands submitted by agitators. This will be done in all districts. We want to keep the pressure building. Collectors, too, should not breathe easy.”
Rajan Ghag, another rally organiser, said, “The number of participants in the rally is indication enough for the State government that Marathas have not calmed down, and the community continues to make rightful demands. We would like to reiterate to the government that we won’t stop until all our demands are met.”
The Maratha agitation was triggered by a brutal gang-rape in Kopardi, Ahmednagar district.
The agitators want changes made to the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, reservation for the Maratha community, implementation of recommendations made by the Swaminathan Commission, and death penalty for the accused in the Kopardi gang-rape.
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