The Maharashtra government has decided to issue Kunbi caste certificates to those Marathas belonging to the Marathwada region. However, the beneficiaries should possess documents from the Nizam era that certify them as Kunbis, Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde said on Wednesday, reported news agency ANI.
Kunbis (the community associated with agriculture) are grouped under the Other Backward Classes (OBC) category in Maharashtra.
“People from the Maratha community in Marathwada who are recognised as Kunbis in documents from the Nizam era will get Kunbi certificates,” Chief Minister Eknath Shinde said speaking to reporters following a cabinet meeting, reported ANI.
The Marathwada region which was earlier part of the erstwhile Hyderabad kingdom became part of Maharashtra. The region falls under the Aurangabad division of Maharashtra bordering the states of Karnataka and Telangana.
Shinde said a five-member panel headed by judge Sandeep Shinde (retired) will determine the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP), including legal and administrative framework, for giving caste certificates to members of the Maratha community referred to as Kunbis in the Nizam-era documents.
The panel will submit its report in a month.
Additional Chief Secretary (revenue), Principal Secretary (law and justice), and collectors of concerned districts (in Marathwada) will be members of this committee. The divisional commissioner, Aurangabad, will be the member secretary of the panel.
Eknath Shinde further said that a committee of five people consisting of a retired judge has been formed to that effect. “This committee will investigate everything. It will work to give reservations to these people,” he said.
Maratha protester Manoj Jarange has been on hunger strike in Jalna district. Jarange has been demanding for Marathas in Marathwada to be recognised as Kunbis.
“Manoj Jarange Patil has been fighting for the Maratha reservation for many years. Devendra Fadnavis had given it during his tenure, then the matter went to the Supreme Court, we will try our best to work on the Maratha reservation. Whatever process has to be done, we will do it,” Shinde added.
The chief minister`s announcement came after protests by members of the Maratha community across the state.
He reiterated that the state government is committed to giving the reservation to Marathas.
“The erstwhile Devendra Fadnavis government had worked sincerely to give reservation to the Maratha community. The decision was challenged in the Bombay High Court but it upheld the government`s decision. However, the quota was struck down by the Supreme Court,” Shinde added.
Without naming the previous Uddhav Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi government, Shinde said the Maratha reservation was struck down when those people criticising us now were in power.
Earlier on Monday, the Maharashtra government tendered an apology for the lathi charge during a protest over the Maratha reservation in Jalna and appealed for peace.
A clash had broken out between police and protesters in Jalna demanding reservation for the Marathas on Friday. Police resorted to lathi-charge to disperse the protesters.
(With inputs from ANI and PTI)