Jalna | Maratha quota activist Manoj Jarange on Saturday started an indefinite fast demanding that a special session of the state legislature be convened in two days to convert the draft notification on "blood relatives" of Kunbi Marathas into a law.
This is the fourth time in less than a year that Jarange has been observing a hunger strike demanding the inclusion of the Maratha community under the OBC grouping.
Addressing a press conference at Antarwali Sarati village, the venue of his hunger strike, Jarange reiterated that cases registered against protesters from the Maratha community across the state be withdrawn immediately.
"The government should convene a special session of the state legislature in two days and bring legislation concerning 'sage soyare' (blood relatives). The government must issue (OBC) caste certificates to 57 lakh people who possess Kunbi records," he said.
After Jarange led a massive march to Mumbai, which culminated on its borders on January 26, the government came up with a draft notification stating that "sage soyre" or blood relatives of a Maratha person with records to show he belongs to the Kunbi community would also be recognised as Kunbi, an agrarian community that falls under the OBC grouping.
He has been demanding the issuance of blanket Kunbi certificates to Marathas.
Jarange said the Justice Sandip Shinde Committee should expedite the work assigned to it.
The committee was constituted by the government initially to look into the Kunbi antecedents of Marathas from the Marathwada region. Its scope was expanded subsequently.
Jarange said the report of the State Backward Class Commission which conducted a survey recently to determine the educational, social, and economic backwardness of the Maratha community, be adopted and converted into a law.
Queried on a letter received by Maharashtra minister and senior OBC leader Chhagan Bhujbal purportedly threatening to harm him, Jarange alleged the NCP leader might have orchestrated the threat to demand protection for himself.
Notably, Jarange and Bhujbal often trade barbs over the Maratha quota issue.
Jarange also claimed that some people had tried to harm him on seven occasions in the past but he chose to remain silent as he didn't want to cause sensation.
He had observed indefinite fasts in the past also but withdrew them on assurance of the government, which has stressed its commitment to grant the reservation to the Maratha community without harming the existing quotas of other communities.
Jarange said he would not accept any kind of medical treatment during the indefinite hunger protest this time.