Maratha organisations, raising a demand for reservation, have called for a Mumbai bandh on Wednesday.

A meeting of organisers of the Maratha Kranti Morcha was held in Dadar on Tuesday to finalise the strategy. A total shutdown has been called in Mumbai, Thane, Navi Mumbai, Raigad and Palghar. However, essential services such as hospitals, chemist shops, and the schools and colleges have been excluded.

“While a bandh in rest of the State was on Tuesday, we had decided to postpone it for the city by a day to ensure safe return of pilgrims from Pandharpur,” Virendra Pawar of the Maratha Kranti Morcha said.

Mr. Pawar said the demands of the community have been before the government for years now. “But instead of listening to us, the government has rejected us from the new 72,000 jobs. The government is even reducing the height of the Chhatrapati Shivaji statue. Are we supposed to stay quiet?” Mr. Pawar asked. The organisers have clarified that schools, colleges, and hospitals will not be affected. “But our activists will be on streets to ensure Mumbai remains completely shut on Wednesday,” he said.

The Mumbai Police will be deploying its entire strength in order to prevent any untoward incidents. “There will be heavy presence of police personnel, and patrolling will be stepped up from Tuesday night. The priority is to ensure that no inconvenience is caused to people,” Joint Commissioner of Police (Law and Order) Deven Bharti said. The police have identified pockets with a good Maratha population and the focus will be on these areas, sources said.

CPI(M) backs demand

Meanwhile, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) on Tuesday extended support to the Maratha reservation.

The party, however, clarified that the creamy layer of the Maratha community should be excluded in order to provide reservations to the poor. “The party does not wish to alter reservation provisions of Dalits, Tribals, Nomadic tribes, and the OBC community. Hence, to make the Maratha reservation a reality without affecting other communities, the party appeals to the Centre to make necessary amendments to the policy of 50% cap on reservations,” Ashok Dhawale, central committee member of the CPI (M), said.

“Reservation is not the only mode to solve the educational and employment related issues of any community,” Narsayya Adam, State secretary of CPI(M), said.

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