Maratha quota activist`s health deteriorates as hunger strike enters 9th day

Manoj Jarange, a fervent activist championing the cause of Maratha quota rights, has entered the ninth day of his hunger strike in Maharashtra`s Jalna district. His health condition has significantly worsened prompting doctors to initiate intravenous fluid treatment due to severe dehydration. PTI reported that Jarange`s blood pressure has registered below the normal range. 

Jarange started his hunger protest on August 29, seeking a prompt resolution to the Maratha quota issue. In a determined move, he declared his intent to cease drinking water and fluids if a favorable decision regarding the Maratha quota is not reached.

Despite two government-led attempts to convince him to stop his fast, Jarange remains steadfast in his resolve. The ongoing agitation has not been without incidents; earlier in the protest, violent clashes erupted, resulting in injuries and damage to property.

On Tuesday, Maharashtra`s Tourism Minister, Girish Mahajan, along with fellow cabinet members Sandipan Bhumre and Atul Save, engaged in a discussion with Jarange to address his concerns. They urged him to accompany them to Mumbai for talks with Chief Minister Eknath Shinde. However, Jarange declined the offer.

Chief Minister Shinde recently announced the formation of a committee tasked with providing Kunbi caste certificates to Marathas from the Marathwada region. This decision follows the Supreme Court`s overturning of reservations granted to the Maratha community in 2018 during the tenure of then-Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. The court cited a 50 percent cap on total reservations among other grounds for its ruling.

Also read: Sharad Pawar calls for removal of 50 per cent quota cap to accommodate more communities

On Monday, Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis tendered an apology on behalf of the government for the police action in Jalna against Maratha protesters demanding quota and dismissed the Opposition’s allegation that the Mantralaya ordered the lathi charge.

The statement came at a media conference addressed jointly by Fadnavis, CM Eknath Shinde and deputy CM Ajit Pawar on Monday after they met to resolve the issue. Shinde announced the suspension of the sub-divisional police officer who is understood to have given the orders to use force. The district police chief was sent on compulsory leave on Sunday. Additional Director General of Police Sanjay Saxena has been asked to probe the incident.

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