Gatherings have been prohibited in Beed district, Maharashtra, following violent protests related to the Maratha quota issue. Incidents of vandalism were reported at buildings affiliated with the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and a legislator. Similar measures have been implemented in Dharashiv.
Yesterday, furious demonstrators pelted stones and set ablaze the residence of MLA Prakash Solanke, associated with the NCP faction led by Ajit Pawar. The opposing faction led by Sharad Pawar faced damage to their office and the Municipal House in Beed. Pictures late at night showed government buses set on fire in Solapur and Pandharpur by quota protesters. Consequently, security has been bolstered outside the residences of NCP leader Chhagan Bhjbal and Union Minister Narayan Rane.
According to Superintendent of Police Nandkumar Thakur, at least 49 individuals have been detained in connection with the unrest in Beed. The demands for reservation in education and government positions have been a long-standing issue for the Maratha community. The recent protests were triggered by alleged remarks against pro-quota activist Manoj Jarange Patil’s hunger strike.
Chief Minister Eknath Shinde assured Mr. Patil of his government’s commitment to address the quota demand. He convened with his deputy Defendra Fadnavis and Governor Ramesh Bais to discuss the state’s law and order situation. The government is expected to endorse the report by retired judge Sandeep Shinde on issuing Kunbi caste certificates to the Maratha community today, which reportedly found around 11,530 Marathas eligible for Kunbi certification out of nearly 100,000 individuals examined.
Sources suggest that a cabinet meeting today might include discussions on convening a special assembly session, a demand previously raised by opposition parties. Mr. Solanke, whose residence was targeted, allegedly made disparaging remarks about the quota demand in a circulated audio clip, which has drawn strong reactions. The Sharad Pawar faction of the NCP has condemned the violence and criticized the state Home Minister for the security lapse.
The Maharashtra government had earlier emphasized its commitment to providing reservations to the Maratha community, with a recognition of the legal complexities involved.