Mumbai, Aug 9 (IANS) Mumbai was on Wednesday deluged by a mammoth ‘Maratha storm’ with lakhs of people from the politically powerful community began their first, biggest and final mammoth ‘mook morcha’ (silent procession), leading to the Maharashtra government announcing a slew of measures.
The ‘mook morcha’ which took off from the Byculla Zoo and terminated at the historic Azad Maidan — a distance of around six km — with lakhs marching peacefully and silently but making a loud political statement for the ruling establishment.
In the day, many parts of the city resembled a sea of people as several lakhs walked at a medium pace, sporting saffron turbans, carrying big and small saffron community flags.
While the majority were on foot, there were some adventurous Marathas who came on bicycles and some others riding horses, a few even dressed like Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj — the idol of all Maharashtrians, grabbing attention of the media crews positioned strategically across south Mumbai.
Several top leaders of various political parties, including former Chief Ministers Narayan Rane and Ashok Chavan, senior Congress and Nationalist Congress Party leaders also joined the procession and interacted with the participants.
Started on August 9, 2016, with processions in 57 cities, the MKM made its maiden entry in the state capital on Wednesday and ended the year-long campaign for reservation by submitting a memorandum to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis in the evening.
Fadnavis later announced that a cabinet sub-committee would be set up to periodically review the issues raised by the Maratha Kranti Morcha and take necessary steps.
On the main demand of reservations for Marathas, he said the Bombay High Court has stayed it and sought a report from the Maharashtra State Backward Class Commission (MSBCC).
“We will request the MSBCC to submit its report early to the court,” Fadnavis told the legislature, after a delegation of MKM and political parties’ leaders met him and submitted a memorandum of their demands.
He announced hostels for Maratha students in every district with an outlay of Rs 5 crore for each, scholarships in 605 academic courses with reduction in minimum percentage marks for eligibility, reduction in fees to benefit one million students, and giving Rs 200 crore to the Annasaheb Patil Arthik Vikas Corporation, among others.
However, the opposition parties were not convinced and both Leader of Opposition in assembly Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil, of the Congress) and Leader of Opposition in Council (NCP) Dhananjay Munder said the CM had nothing new to offer.
Wednesday’s procession secured the support of all political parties with even the NDA constituents Shiv Sena and Republican Party of India-A announcing their support, while the Samajwadi Party and AIMIM took the opportunity to raise the long-pending demands for similar job and educational reservations for the Muslim community.
Meanwhile, the procession resulted in disruptions in road and rail traffic inconveniencing millions of commuters rushing home from workplaces this evening.
During the day, as the Maratha ‘mook morcha’ sailed into Mumbai from the five entry points from across the mainland, besides the railways, there were massive huge traffic jams in the city and adjacent districts of Thane, Raigad and Palghar.
The Mumbai police along with the BMC and state government was geared with over 7,000 personnel, including commandos, armed police, police in plainclothes, to provide security. Besides, metal detectors, dog squads and drones had been deployed to monitor security, water tankers and mobile toilets provided by the BMC, among other facilities.
Police made use of social media like Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, FM radios and other platforms to provide updates on traffic to the millions of office-goers in the peak morning and evening hours.
All schools and colleges in south Mumbai were ordered shut by Education Minister Vinod Tawde for the day to ensure students were not inconvenienced during the procession.