The Union government’s move to demonetize Rs500 and Rs1,000 currency notes has put a spanner in the march of Marathas, literally. A silent protest march, planned by the community at Jantar Mantar, on November 20, to support the demand for Maratha reservation in Maharashtra, has been postponed indefinitely. The organisers said following demonetization they are facing serious logistical issues that have impeded their preparations.
Given the cash crunch at the moment, a few of the core organisers met late on Monday evening and eventually decided to call off the protest on November 6. “In the wake of demonetization, we are facing a money crunch and that will affect preparations for accommodating people coming to Delhi, payment to vendors who have made publicity material and those providing logistics at Jantar Mantar,” said Pradip Patil, one of the organisers and a goldsmith.
Since many of the organisers belong to the goldsmith community, they have also been busy in taking care of their books following demonetization.
According to the organisers, a total of Rs8 lakh has already been spent on the protest and they are going to face losses as thousands of t-shirts, caps and flags have been already been made and paid for. Also several banners about the silent march have been put up at Old Rajinder Nagar, Karol Bagh, Chandni Chowk, Paharganj, Daryaganj and Nizamuddin Railway station.
The silent march at Jantar Mantar on Sunday was to be attended by nearly 25,000 Marathas residing in Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra. “Nearly 10,000 people were to attend the protest from Maharashtra and since everyone is currently facing a problem to withdraw cash, it would have been difficult for them to travel at this time. Providing accommodation was also an issue that we were facing after Centre’s announcement,” said another organiser who did wish to be named.
The Maratha community had decided on agitating in Delhi in September as a show of support for the silent protests that took Maharashtra by storm. The silent protests in Maharashtra were triggered following the alleged gruesome gang-rape and murder of a 15-year old Maratha girl in Kopardi, Ahmednagar district. Apart from demanding death penalty for the accused in the case, the community is demanding reservation and amendments in the Atrocities Act.
In more than 40 protests, that began in August in Aurangabad, lakhs of people have participated and nearly a third of the protestors are college going girls and women. The rallies being organized in Maharashtra have been unprecedented and unique. Even as lakhs have come out there is no sloganeering, no violence and rallies have been maintained cleanliness too. This has made it difficult for the BJP-led state government to crack down on the protests.