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Fresh Maratha protests to be held over govt ‘failure’ to withdraw criminal cases

The Maratha community in Maharashtra will hold fresh protests today against the BJP-led state government’s “failure” to withdraw criminal cases against the protesters. Maratha community members will hold a jail bharo protest in Mumbai, Sakal Maratha Morcha leader Praveen Patil announced on Tuesday.

“The state government, despite its assurance of withdrawing criminal charges of vandalism and damaging public property against some protesters, has not taken any action and that is why we are holding the protest Mumbai tomorrow,” Patil said.

He also sought an apology from Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, Revenue Minister Chandrakant Patil and BJP MLA Ram Kadam for “defaming” Maratha quota agitation and its leaders.

The politically influential Maratha community, constituting around 30% of the state’s population, has been agitating to press its demand for reservation in jobs and education.

The community had earlier taken out silent marches across the state to highlight their demands, prominently for reservation.

However, their latest round of agitation has taken a violent turn. Protesters indulged in violence and arson at separate places in Maharashtra on Monday.

Four police officials were injured in stone pelting, and around 70 vehicles, including state-run buses and police vans, were damaged or torched during the violence in Chakan near Pune on Monday.

Maratha outfits have announced that a mega rally will be held in Mumbai on August 9 in support of their quota demand.

Two more suicides, death toll reaches 6

Meanwhile, the death toll rose to six on Tuesday as two more protesters committed suicide. A labourer and a student ended their lives, while eight protesters attempted suicide in Maharashtra on Tuesday, police said.

The 17-year-old student died after jumping into a well at Vadodbazar village in Fulambri teshil of Aurangabad district, police said. Pradip Hari Mhaske, who secured 75% marks in the 10th standard exam, failed to secure admission in a junior college and a technical training institute in absence of any Maratha quota in these institutions, an official said.

Mhaske’s suicide triggered a fresh set of protests, with Maratha community members staging a ‘rasta roko’ protest on the Aurangabad-Jalgaon road.

Abhijeet Deshmukh, 35, a farm labourer in Veeda village in Beed district in Marathwada region hanged himself from a tree near his house today, police said. Among the other reasons Deshmukh mentioned in his suicide note were unemployment and unpaid bank loan, a police official said.

This is the fifth suicide in the state over Maratha reservation issue.

Eight protesters attempted self-immolation by pouring kerosene in support of Maratha reservation in Latur district, also in Marathwada region, police said.

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