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File photo of a Maratha protest march. Photo: Abhijit Bhatlekar/Mint
File photo of a Maratha protest march. Photo: Abhijit Bhatlekar/Mint

OBCs, Dalits and Muslims to hold silent march in Aurangabad

The silent protest by the OBCs, Dalits and Muslims has been named 'Bahujan Kranti Muk Morcha' on the lines of the Maratha Kranti Muk Morcha

Mumbai: Nearly three months after the Marathas held their first silent protest march in Aurangabad, a similar rally has been called by Dalit, other backward class (OBC) and Muslim groups on Friday.

A host of organizations and political parties have come together for the silent march to demand that the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act be protected; Marathas be given job and education quotas independent of the SC/ST and OBC reservation; implementation of the recommendation of the Sachar committee on the condition of Muslims; and a 5% quota for Muslims in government-run and aided education institutions and jobs.

The All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) will join the march, said AIMIM’s Aurangabad legislator Imtiyaz Jaleel. The silent protest has been named “Bahujan Kranti Muk Morcha" on the lines of the Maratha Kranti Muk Morcha.

The Maratha silent marches kicked off on 9 August after the Sakal Maratha Samaj, an umbrella organization of several Maratha groups, held one in Aurangabad to demand the death penalty for those responsible for the rape and murder of a Maratha girl in Ahmednagar district in July. All three accused named in the charge sheet were Dalits.

The Maratha demands also include introduction of quotas for Marathas and amending the Atrocities Act to prevent its alleged misuse against Marathas.

In response to the Maratha mobilization, Dalits, OBCs, and Muslims have also held silent protests. They too back the death penalty for the Ahmednagar culprits, but want Maratha quotas to be independent of the reservation granted by the Constitution to SC, ST, Nomadic Tribes and OBCs.

This is the first time that the AIMIM, an influential Muslim political party, would be joining the protest.

Jaleel said the rationale behind the AIMIM support to Dalit organizations was that the two communities “were most discriminated against in India" and needed to raise their voice together. “Dalits have been demanding that the Atrocities Act be protected and indeed strengthened to prevent the kind of atrocities on Dalits all over the country. The Atrocities Act must not be repealed in this context," Jaleel said. He said the Muslims were also taking part in the protest to demand implementation of the Sachar Committee and 5% quota for Muslims in Maharashtra.

AIMIM has a strong presence in Aurangabad and it has often talked of its plans to expand in Maharashtra. In the 2015 elections to the Aurangabad municipal corporation, AIMIM came a close second winning 25 seats to Shiv Sena’s 29.

In 2005, then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had formed the Rajinder Sachar committee to study the economic and social backwardness of Muslims in India and suggest corrective measures. In 2014, the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party government in Maharashtra had issued an ordinance giving 16% quota to Marathas and 5% to Muslims. However, the incumbent Bharatiya Janata Party-Shiv Sena government passed an Act to ensure the Maratha quota but skirted the Muslim reservation demand citing legal hurdles. In April 2015, the Bombay high court stayed Maratha quota.

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