Thousands of people belonging to the Maratha community on Wednesday took out a silent protest march in Mumbai demanding reservation in jobs and education.

The massive silent march began from the Jijamata Udyan in Byculla in the morning amid tight security with participants carrying saffron swallow tail flags.

For almost a year, Maharashtra’s politically and socially influential Maratha community has been taking to the streets across the state. On Wednesday, as Mumbai finally marched towards what is being termed as the final massive March, here’s a look at what the Marathas are protesting against.

Maratha, a pre-dominantly farmer caste, is more than one-third of Maharashtra’s population. Beyond Mumbai and other cities, more from the community are engaged in agriculture. For the past two decades, agriculture has become less profitable for the farmers and that has had a direct impact on the Marathas.

The competition for each job is tough and Maratha youths think their chances are further reduced owing to the 52% reservation for those from other castes and communities. This has led to discontent in the community.

Many parts of the city resembled a sea of Maratha community as protesters walked at a medium pace, sporting saffron turbans, carrying big and small saffron community flags. But there were no banners or placards of political messages.

There were reports of several rallies planned before that had been cancelled due to several reasons. Its last biggest silent protest rally that was held on 25 September saw an attendance of 25 lakh, including women, children and the elderly. However since then, there have been no major rallies. The November rally in Delhi had to be cancelled due to demonetization while its 6 March rally had clashed with board examinations. In total, 49 rallies have taken place in almost all districts of Maharashtra till now.

Till now, it has not allowed any political leader to take part in its rallies.

This is the 58th march of the Maratha community, exactly a year after the first such protest held in Aurangabad. The march has been organized by the Sakal Maratha Samaj, an umbrella organization of several Maratha groups.

Over the year, more people joined the protest and as a result, Mumbai witnessed its biggest ever silent protest.


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