The Maratha quota activist has declared the withdrawal of his hunger strike after 17 days. Image Source: ANI
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Khushi Bhuta, Pune

Maratha quota activist Manoj Jarange-Patil declared the withdrawal of his hunger strike after 17 days. Despite the withdrawal, the activist has stated that he will continue to participate in protests against the Government of Maharashtra till they issue Kunbi caste certificates to the extended family members of those who already possess them. This, in turn, would allow for the relatives to utilize the reservations provided to those who are within the caste. 

The decision was explained as made in light of the uncertainty surrounding his health in Maharashtra as well as the alleged “curfew” implemented to prevent his followers from traveling to the village of Antarwali Sarati in Jalna. In a statement to reporters in Anatarwali Sarati, Jarge explained his future plan of action by stating, “I will undergo treatment for a few days, after which I will set out for a statewide tour.”

Jarange’s decision coincided with the commencement of the state legislature’s budget session in Mumbai and occurred the day after he declared a march to Mumbai to push for his demands on quotas for the Maratha community in professional and educational spaces. Despite the suspension, the activist has clarified that three to four of his representatives will be continuing the fast till their demands are fulfilled. Furthermore, in context of travel restrictions imposed by the government, he has stated that he will be touring the state himself to meet and interact with his supporters. 

Strongly in support of the continued agitation even post his withdrawal from the fast, he has stated that “I am going to continue the agitation until the demands of the Maratha community are met by the government. The clause pertaining to inclusion of sage soyare (relatives) will have to be included.”

In order to meet the community’s demands, the Government of Maharashtra had Following Jarange’s fast, the government recently released a draft notification stating that a Maratha individual’s “sage soyre” or blood relations would also receive Kunbi caste certificates provided they can provide strong written documentary evidence proving that they belong in the agrarian Kunbi community. Since the Kunbi community belongs to the Other Backward Classes (OBCs), Jarange has been pushing for the issuance of Kunbi certificates to all Marathas, entitling them to quota benefits.