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Maratha quota activist Jarange withdraws his fast after 17 days

The activist had earlier said the Maratha quota bill may not stand legal scrutiny

Maratha quota activist Jarange withdraws his fast after 17 days

Maratha quota activist Manoj Jarange 

MUMBAI: Activist Manoj Jarange on Monday announced he is withdrawing his 17-day-old fast undertaken over the Maratha quota issue, but insisted he would continue his agitation until the Maharashtra government starts issuing Kunbi caste certificates to extended family members of people already having such documents, thereby allowing them to avail reservation benefits.

Jarange’s decision came a day after he announced a march to Mumbai to press for his demands related to quota in jobs and education for the Maratha community and coincided with the start of the budget session of the state legislature in Mumbai.

Last week, both houses of the state legislature unanimously passed a bill providing 10 per cent separate reservation for the Maratha community in education and government jobs. Jarange, sitting on an indefinite hunger strike since February 10 at Antarwali Sarati village in Jalna district, however, insisted on quota for the Marathas under the OBC category and had continued his fast.

“Although I am suspending my agitation (hunger strike) today, there will be 3 to 4 youths who would sit here and fast every day for our demands. I will also visit some villages and explain my stand to them. They could not come to meet me here (at Antarwali Sarati village) because of restrictions imposed by the home department,” he said.

Asked about several police complaints filed against him over the quota stir, the activist appeared unfazed.

“If they want to prosecute me, I have no issues, but (by doing so) they will invite trouble. People would get angry, and the CM and the home minister would face consequences. It is their call now,” he said.

Chief Minister Eknath Shinde on Sunday evening warned the Maratha quota activist, asking him not to test the patience of the state government after Jarange levelled certain allegations against deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis, who also holds the home portfolio. Jarange had also made some references to the caste of BJP leader Fadnavis, a Brahmin.

The activist had earlier said the Maratha quota bill may not stand legal scrutiny.

In the wake of Jarange’s fast, the government recently issued a draft notification which said if a Maratha person has documentary proof to show that he or she belongs to the agrarian Kunbi community, the person’s ‘sage soyre’ or blood relatives, too, would get Kunbi caste certificates.

The Kunbi community falls in the Other Backward Classes (OBCs) category, and Jarange has been demanding that Kunbi certificates be issued to all Marathas, thus making them eligible for quota benefits.

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