The Maratha community in Maharashtra has been protesting for their rights and justice for a rape victim in Kopardi. As usual the print and electronic media largely ignored this unrest and tarnished it via rumor mongering. Upper caste media has tried to paint these protests as anti-Dalit.
Marathas have been upset for a number of reasons. Kopardi incident only served as a breaking point for community’s patience. Plight of farming, non-affordable education, cultural attacks on Maratha icons, are few of the problems the community faces. They also feel that Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act has been misused largely to settle personal and political rivalries. The Marathas, for the first time, have organized unanimously in large numbers to fight for their rights and took a stand for future of community. That’s how Maratha Kranti Morchas were born. Now they have decided to take their fight to next level. On 31st January 2017 Marathas will be blocking roads all over Maharashtra.
Are these protests against Dalits?
The answer is big NO. Marathas are angry at their traditional leadership and governments. If you look closely these protests are apolitical and any political leader showing up is sent back. They are angry at the state of matters, not any community. Even on 31st January 2017 members of community from Akola district suspended the roadblock for passage of dead bodies of Dalit jawans.
Do they want Prevention of Atrocities act scrapped?
Again the answer is big NO. This rumor is one of the product of hate campaigns run by upper caste media. Marathas have been demanding amendments to the Prevention of Atrocities act to avoid its misuse, not for its scrapping. Maratha community has a long tradition of social reformers and they have been at the helm of social change for decades.
It’s a right of every community to protest for their right in democracy. The Maratha protest has shown an exemplary model for protests around the world. Millions of people marched but not a single person was affected. No destruction of public property happened. Now, it’s up to government to solve their problems and our fellow countrymen to lend an ear to their plight.